Post-script to Tarka Trail: a Tuning Fork



Reading this today … … (Do read it !)
… reminded me of a significant small detail I forgot in my post about the Tarka Trail !

It was when my father and I had taken the keyboard action out of his piano, and exposed the hammers, strings and blocks inside.   He hadn’t done this for a long time.  He told me one note in particular was not being properly damped, and was sticking;  at D in the octave above middle C.   Without the keys, we couldn’t tell which string it was.  He used his old tuning fork, to strike an A.   You knock the metal fork on something, then stand the base on a wooden block, and it sings.  Then we hummed  and pinged up the strings, to find it.

The funny thing was, that after I heard the tuning-fork’s A just once, it happened that two or three times when seeking a particular note, I pinged a string at random, and it was the precise tone I was looking for.   It was like a homeopathic practitioner touching the right remedy among the bottles.  My audial subconscious and sense of touch, after hearing the tuning fork, did the job unerringly – from where, I do not know.


For the job itself, we filed down the tiny knobs of lead between the small wooden blocks between each string, which had swelled – beginning with the stuck D … success.

For the “significance” … I feel a strong converging current these days – which this week’s storm blowing through, continues to confirm, and so does yesterday’s solar eclipse.   Finding the right note three times, by touch, I was simply concentrating, like a blind piano-tuner does.  And it led me to itself, without thinking.

Sound is concentric:  the sound of the soul is contagious, as are linked events.   NepTUNE is the tuning fork of an Astrology chart. It is CONTAGIOUS, because it concentrics a sound-resonance, or butterfly wing. It foregathers us universally, and gravity is the way of love.

In the days of the Mings, Chinese astrologers read the song of the planets and taught their royal clients to hear the soul’s unique musical sound, within their body.  They interpreted thus, the sound of a person’s soul – its resonance;  they struck that individual tuning fork: the song of destiny.

Your destiny vibrates … like a mantra breathed by a Master into your ear.  It resonates through your life.  You will for ever recognise that special note … as you become still and listen.


Piano action pieces

Piano action pieces

I am interested in how things work.   So here is a piece of piano action and hammers …

strings and hammers

strings and hammers

hands and keyboard action

… and the hands …

… which I begged off a piano shop, one autumn day in 1986, to paint the following picture …

Musician and Audience 1986

Musician and Audience 1986

… which is called “Musician and Audience” – it expresses the feeling of a bell-like sound I heard at a piano recital, which filled the hall.   You can see my hands too, the artist at work, or “audience”, along the bottom of the painting, and even my eye and profile.   The colours were laid on with a palette knife – the glory of wet autumn leaves and the wind, the wild tints of earth and light.

This pianist spoke to me about the art of touch, particularly in Mozart:  a consciousness of the beds of the keys, and the tiny silent interval or space, just as the key descends;  the string is struck, and begins to ring like a bell … and expand.   True pianism is not percussive;  it is a caress of conscious power;  a way of lifting the resonance from the key-beds.  The late Paul Roes wrote of it, and of the posture for piano playing, in his book on the heritage of Liszt:  Music, the Mystery and the Reality.

Knowing and feeling this, contributes immensely to the warmth, breadth and speech of the sound and phrasing.

I tried to illustrate it in this drawing of Hermetic healing … a brushing out of the ancient dust and Karmas under the piano keys – how true to Life! – just as my father and I were doing last week, with brushes and a small hoover.  The wood came up fresh and clean and aired.  And there along the bottom … and sleeping in the fragrance of grand old pianos … are Hermes the healer, a child being cradled in his arms, the ocean, the sun and a happy tuning fork – a Key! – in the form of Mercury.   He is winged.  Or is it Venus?

hermetic beds of piano keys

hermetic beds of piano keys

The life is set free.





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

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The Tarka Trail, a Red Book, and a Lamp


Bike under my kitchen table

Bike under my kitchen table

This post is linked to an earlier one last year – a poem-of-eclipse (1999) about my father and his violin: see  A Tendency of Concentric Rings.

Tarka Trail

For many years, I wondered if it was possible to visit Peter by bike from Bideford in North Devon.  He was getting too old to drive, and could no longer fetch me from the National Express bus.  It is about 15 miles inland, and very hilly.

I bought my fold-up bike for this purpose, six months ago.  But National Express run only one bus daily from London:  it takes five hours, and the evenings are dark too early now, for a long bike ride to my anxious parent.   I discovered the travel timetable is much more flexible – one every hour – if I take the TRAIN to Barnstaple – another eight miles further to ride.   It costs a lot more than the bus, but who cares!

The Tarka bike trail was opened up as a conservation project along a disused rail track. It follows the coast line from Barnstaple, then bends through Bideford into the Torrington district, all the way down to Petrockstowe.  The railway was closed in the 1970s.

Tarka Trail Barnstaple to Petrockstowe (red dotted line - about 21 miles.)  The train (Tarka Line) travels up to Barnstaple along the  river - centre wriggly line, which shows the road.

Tarka Trail Barnstaple to Petrockstowe (red dotted line – about 21 miles.) The train (Tarka Line) travels up to Barnstaple from Exeter along the river and the green A377 road – centre wriggly line. Then the Tarka Trail sets off from Barnstaple station into the sky, the dunes and salt marshes of the Taw estuary and the sea.

Tarka is the name of the otter in Henry Williamson’s novel, who was born and died along the Torridge river.  The entire region is alive with the Tarka mythos.  I always wanted to see the spectacularly beautiful river region between Bideford and Torrington.  The old railway gradient ensures no steep hills!

You can hire bikes on the Tarka Trail website, or on the spot at Barnstaple Station, Bideford and the Puffing Billy.   Mine folds up, so I took it on the train.

Bike last spring, near St Albans

Bike last spring, near St Albans – with Roman ruin


23 October 2013, near Buckland Filleigh

... Nearing my father’s house on its hilltop at dusk, hot and sweaty from the climb, soft thrum of the wind in the air, and an ever changing sky like the sea.  Woodlands feather the fields; delicious the huge quiet, sweet the smell and to be the sky, the open scent of cows.    I thought of my old Letter on the Gate poem:

Above a hidden loop of the sour Torridge river 
– brown and sleeping snake – 
coppice of toughened oak and beech 
with cow parsley’s tryst entangle; 
and on high rough meadows 
the rush pricked pasture 
is dotted with dry flakes of dung. 

To Dartmoor’s wide wing 
cloud-borne in the southern sky, 
acorn tufted slow sheep-back hills 
undulate an inland sea: 
and on the road from Sheepwash to Shebbear 
I found a notice on a field-gate, 
white paper pinned: 

a local dance, skittles champion, an eyesore planning procedure perhaps:  
or addressed to the Winsford Hospital League of Friends?”

Jim Ede and ...?

Jim Ede and …?

Idly I glance;  then widened eyes – 
an open letter is posted for all to see, 
fresh in the late Jim Ede’s 
unmistakable economy script … “


The poem goes on, it was based on a vivid dream-vision in 1999, which carried many depth messages and ancestral themes.   Jim was my grandfather – Peter’s father-in-law.


Apart from that, Peter and I have an interesting relationship:  he is like a guide.  He points to my path – a book I should read, or something he is interested in – without either of us realising how significant the detail will be for me.   It  happens when I visit him, and is always unexpected.

The journey in a nice chug-a-chug local train from Exeter to Barnstaple along the single-track Tarka Line, and then by bike along the 20-mile trail to Marland, was ROMANTIC beyond my expectation.  It awoke in my memory the recalled delight.   The drivers of the up and down trains stop and exchange keys for the single track between Eggesford and Umberleigh.

Later on … the hills, the lush woods, the brown river, the legends of the otters and of Victorian engineering, the gradient of the old railway line as it rises and falls, a high level aqueduct canal the Victorians built, and their ingenuity in “ramping” the 40 foot descent to the tidal-level lock;  the song of the place names dear to Henry Williamson – all sprang to life and love again.  It is among the most beautiful and secretive landscape in Britain.

My bike ride – with frequent stops to admire the view and the river – took nearly four hours, and by the time I was climbing through the old woods near Torrington to the hilltops and a familiar view of Dartmoor, I was very tired.   But I cheered up again with the gradient descending, and reached Dunsbear Halt – more scruffy than in the online photo.  A remote lane on the map crosses it – the line continues down to Petrockstowe.  I turned off to the right just after 5 pm, to toil the open hills.  In Devon just when you think you are reaching the top of a hill, it tosses its head.  It was heart warming to begin to recognise the lie of the farmland around my father’s care-home – the little tower beacon at 500 feet on a nearbye skyline curve, a fringe of larch forest, a dip of fields and zinc-roof barns.   Then, with dusk about to fall, the familiar lane towards Buckland Filleigh – I had found it!.

I rode into the farm – now a care home for the elderly, and for “supported living”, staffed by local good-wives, and the long root-runners of regional gossip.  The young entrepreneur who runs it, lives like a creeping buttercup.  He and his family are established in farms and cottages throughout the district, and thrive.  The care home has an excellent reputation, and runs on bio-fuels.  They had a very poor alfalfa harvest this year, so the place is running on wood-chip at present.

Later, I went up a ladder in one of the barns, to look at the process.   It moved, alive and warm in the vast woodchip pile, like a dragon!   A half hid wheel with wings slowly turned and rustled in the depths, as it laboriously ate the collapsing fuel:  the whole pile in slow motion:  warmth and sound – the serpent moves.

the old piggery

Peter’s self contained cottage is a converted piggery with a pitched roof, skylights and attractive timbers.   His arm waving in his kitchen window – his shout, Hooray!    A dyed-in-the wool Capricorn (like myself), he was waiting there for the last 15 minutes.   I rang him from the narrow lane at Dunsbear Halt.   I arrived just in time for tea.   He is nearly 91, and his heart weakens steadily and gives him trouble and anxiety.   But he looks well.   He is less puffy round the eyes, than when I saw him last.   His facial contour emerges in a different way, it has refined.  He might die at any time.   How will that feel?   We didn’t discuss it till the end of my visit.  He said for him there is no death.  One becomes “everything” rather than the single imagined “particular”.  But the physical body gets instinctively panicky.

“Listen to this,” he said again.  “One night I was told – I had to get out of bed and find my glasses and go to my desk and write it down – I was told by a Voice, very clearly – I am … You are … a particle-ar expressing of the Universal energy.  There is no separation.”

Then he reminded me, he joined a London buddhist Sangha back in 1957 or so, when we were living in Surrey.  He went to the Sangha leader, tense with questions about enlightenment and how to live.  The Sangha leader had a little room with nothing in it at all. He sat in his robe, looked up and said, “The Past is Over.  The Future has not come yet.  The Present is Now.  DO NOT WASTE IT”.

Don’t waste it.

To travel the contour satisfies the soul.  In modern high-speed trains, I feel nothing and I am cocooned and cut off, and I just want the journey to end.  The faster it goes, the longer it seems to take, and I only want to arrive.  In local bone rattlers I am in the present with the journey, and I see and feel everything: the wheels, the rails, my body, the passengers, the view;  there is no time.  The sun came out in my inner life, with an amazed smile.


I didn’t think to take my camera.  Perhaps this is just as well, because my journey would have taken twice as long.  These online images of the trail must suffice.  The rest of the photos in this post, are my old ones.

Impressions – non-chronological, but just as they come – of my ride:  a hire-bikes cafe deep in the woods called The Puffing Billy.  A lean youth in a hat and curly hair, broad Devon, potters affably, and his spaniel chews a rubber ball with ecstatic expectancy.  Here I enjoyed a tub of Cornish ice-cream and a flapjack, while admiring the power of the swollen brown river below, through steep forest.  Not far off is the titanic roar of the small falls, where salmon sometimes leap.   It was lovely to keep hearing the swirl and shout of the flooded brown waters.   The river winds and twists in a bewildering series of steeply engraved ox bows and sudden emerald meadows.  Wherever you come upon it, the current runs now to the left, then to the right.  Peter says the whole geology lifted while the river was carving its alluvian bed.

The ride goes through a tunnel or two, which was fun.  The beautiful oval bricklaying is illumined by regular lamps – the darkness, then the russet, ochre and olive splendour of the curve, the detail – like an alchemical secret in the bowels.

There are stopping points, with maps to illustrate the wildlife, the human history and the source – near the waterfall and the raised canal – where Tarka the Otter was born and began his journey.  The water, the stone and the woods are incredibly atmospheric.  There are footpaths away from the path, to climb, stalk and dream along.   Further down the trail  are startling sculptures of seated souls – or conversing otters? – decorated in lively mosaic by local school children – a strip-cartoon Henry Moore series, among the alder and the oaks.


More memories:  Setting out from Barnstaple against the wind, the dead straight lane into the enormous question of sky-weather, estuary, marshlands and the bumpy brown Burrows of Braunton across the water, was rather formidable with my long, unknown journey ahead.  As when beginning to climb a rock face, you don’t give up with one hold.  One leads to another.  You just keep going,  until you are the whole journey:  the flow and knowledge of each ledge and hold of the rock face.

So I keep pushing the pedals round and round until the landscape and horizons are embodied.   It is my life.   Being nearly 65, an instinct in my body is fearful, and protests.   The instinct is frightened my bike might break down, or I might be very late, and my father will worry.


Path near Buckland Filleigh

Yarde is the last old station before Dunsbear Halt.  I was told at Puffing Billy back near Torrington, there is a really good cup of coffee at Yarde.  But the cafe was closed;  a middle aged hairy hobbit busy rebuilding some steps … a round-house in the garden (they put up travellers) … a remote and tender furred flow of landscape … a slight fall of the gradient just ahead, to rest in top gear, after a long slow climb.

The lane is metalled and smooth from Barnstaple to Torrington, but by Torrington where it enters the old woodland, it is a path of dark gravel, puddles and old leaves; and discreet posters at each crossroads or historic halt, proclaim the North Devon Biosphere project.

Passing Bideford – a strange North Devon “Riviera” with its terraced small city, elderly bridge and boats – was enchanting, as I left the coast and went into the unknown interior.   From the direction of far-off Marland came huge rain clouds against the sun, and a spattering drift of shower here and there;  yet they seemed to disperse and break up, on meeting sea currents.   Light spilled, glowed and was veiled.

I passed hikers, bikers and dog walkers.   Every single person smiled.

The Tarka Trail and its maintenance is part of a project to promote a conscious ecology.   It transformed the old railtrack – which began to close in the 1970s – into a sylvan liberation, a new way of life.  Some landowners along the route at first refused to allow the way to be opened, so there was a tussle, which the Trust won.   In its full length the Tarka Trail is the longest maintained bike path in Britain, off the road all the way.   It links with cross country hiking trails almost as long, to the west and towards Exmoor in the east.

Young cattle near Buckland Filleigh.  Buckland Filleigh is a curiously sinister grey mansion and chapel on a wooded hill.   In it, conferences and training-courses are held.  It would make a marvellous centre for a whodunnit series.

Young cattle near Buckland Filleigh. Buckland Filleigh is a curiously sinister grey mansion and chapel on a wooded hill. In it, conferences and training-courses are held. It is a splendid location for a whodunnit series incorporating the gossip-lines all over the countryside; the old peoples’ care home nearbye – where the prime suspects are! – and remote farms in frost-pockets off the grid.


24 October  Red Book

The dew is heavy this morning, and spiders covered the frames of each window with perfect jewelled webs that blow in the breeze.  Last night we walked out and saw all the stars come out, including two shooting stars, the tail end of a meteor shower, as the sky deepened to darkest night.  First we spotted Cassiopaeia, then the Plough and the North Star;  then the Little Bear;  then the long smudge of the Milky Way as the gloaming deepened to black … a diamond-studded galaxy.  But no sign of Orion!  Perhaps he was still climbing from the horizon’s haze.   My daughter rang up and sounded happy and said she wants to do this ride with me, to Grandpa’s.  We shall have a beer when I get back.



Yesterday I visited another resident, who lives in the converted barn. He is bipolar, and said he has been ill for 40 years. We talked about his condition and how frightening it gets when he is high, and how he misses Dulverton.  I liked his landscape paintings on the walls of his spacious quarters – he is wealthy.

We discussed Jung a bit, and he cheered up with my company and made me a good cup of tea –  and fetched his copy of THE RED BOOK and lent it to me while I am here.

The mysterious – The Red Book is my Miracle manifested.  It is a great slab of pure red gold.   He bought it on Amazon a year ago, but hasn’t been able to look at it much.  It cost nearly £100.  I shall buy one as soon as I get home.  It is every bit as important as getting  new specs to see properly with.  Isn’t it amazing to touch, and see Jung’s paintings and inner mosaic – his alchemical journey from the dark into the light – and to have that process to read and absorb, as I begin my new work.   I had heard something on the grapevine, but didn’t know it is published in full facsimile, with translation and history.

Jung & his house at Bollingen

Jung is so much more than the founder of Jungian psychoanalysis.  He is a Paracelsus reborn, and the composite of many great medicine sages before that.  He is depth.  He embodied the twentieth century Conscience, with all its Shadow;  he holds the medicine-Staff.  As I knew well during my 1980s odyssey, I stood on his shoulders, and where I went was because of where he had been.  He faced Baphomet and illumined the Way.

One of the paintings in the Red Book is a great face, mosaic’d in graded squares of blue and violet, with down turned mouth and great inward eyes, like many of Jung’s interior Companions.  The expression is how my old friend Elisabeth looked:  the down turned “jungian” intensity is classic – a medieval priest embodies a path of Awe in the other realm.  Without a doubt, Elisabeth today steers me to this treasure, and to learn to become an art-therapist, like she did when she was my age.   She met Jung when she was much younger.

The above drawing was done after Jung visited and spoke to me in a dream.   In my dream, we met in a secluded garden near a house.  I showed him four drawings arranged in a square;  at least two were new portraits of him – (which I hadn’t ‘done’.) He looked at them carefully, and asked me would I please xerox him a copy?

Thus prompted, I drew it “for him” the following day.   Here it is, above; and here is another.

Jung with pipe

He visits me again, and nudges.  Carl Gustav Jung you teach me, as I want to learn to guide others.   There are some unmistakable signs and symbols around at present.  You, the 20th century in full, come from deep history, a greater and wilder depth and breadth than is generally realised on the surface … greater than even you were aware of, in Yesod.

I knew just one thing about the Red Book, as described in Memories, Dreams, Reflections – it is the abyss, the ferment from which your life’s great work, and all the academic studies, emerged.   The Red Book and the Seven Sermons to the Dead (which I have) are your creative foundation.   It is the crucible:  the rest is for linear consumption.    Elisabeth Tomalin gave me her copy of the Seven Sermons.

Elisabeth Tomalin

The Red Book is the painstaking aesthetic completion – in hand script and with all the illuminations and paintings – of what was scribbled down in Jung’s Black Books.   The Red Book was an artist’s great labour to build a monument, a Gothic cathedral.  It took decades to finish, and it is not complete.   It breaks off mid-sentence.

It seems to have begun during the Great War.  It was born from a black depression which Jung feared was psychotic;  during which he continued his clinical work, and to support his family.   His capacity was to travel, to imagine, to visualise and to remember, profoundly.  The Great Archetypes of the Styx cohered into sub-personalities, psychopomps and sages.  I remember how impressed I was in the 1980s, to read about his deep, deep dives into the ocean, at his desk – into the collective Unconscious, opening the way.  He tumbled backwards into it, like a diver, down and down:  then he painted and wrote it forth.

The Red Book emerges as the secret Fire from the great black slabs of his depression, and from the two great Wars of that era.

fountain of life

fountain of life

I used to imagine him sitting at his desk, his study, and closing his eyes and descending from there into the collective unconscious, as he journeyed.  He might be in the Underbeing for hours – his family would not disturb him.  I think it happened as he wrote.  He wrote and painted it forth.  Like Paul Foster Case touching base with Master R, Jung in his black and red books and the Seven Sermons, laid the psychic foundation … on which he would build and fill in all the volumes of his academic work, shelf after shelf, room after room.

When a house is built, a concrete foundation is poured.   When a new psychology is developed, the contact is poured, a serpentine drift of luminous colour and profundity:  the seeing in the dark.

Jung’s artistic cliché is a Celtic-christian ornamentation, rather serpentine.   These curly motifs appear in nearly all his work.   The colours and their intricate labour and subtlety are extraordinary, like medieval stained glass.  They are serpentine.   Some of the images are wonderfully disturbing.  My father took a look, and said they are phallic.   Jung began having visions of the European Fate when he was a little child.

8n Stone and Jung

One of the volumes: “Modern Man in Search of a Soul


Depression is a great slab of confinement which either captures the soul in its dream for forty years or more, OR releases the Keys to travel and liberation under the slab.  Eventually they grow up and through and crack the slab like flowers.   The Keys are always offered, but few have the ability to accept and use them.   Depression is a locked-in creative potential, not really an illness.

Jung’s Great Keys are of fluid iron, and wrought into floral patterns.  I am sure he began his visionary paintings and mandalas by doodling first, these patterns behind his eyes, and slowly, obsessively colouring them in;  he descended into the dark;  the mandalas and the statements grew into colour, organically, expanding outward into Themes, Archetypes, Great Shadows and his guide, Philemon.

The Key is the devoted precision in outlining the strange shapes behind the eyes.  It was the way I worked also.   It is the way I shall try to follow again – my signature – and encourage others to follow their own, in due course.

Another similarity is that in some of his paintings are made-up hieroglyphs.   They resemble my made-up hieroglyphs.  The fascinating pressure – of ancient forgotten languages – is engraved in the Subconscious Stone.

outgrow the gods

outgrow the gods

Underbeing & topsoil

Underbeing and the topsoil person 1988


Suddenly I have the secret of his Sermons to the Dead:  the contact he called up:  the neglected mythos.  The living stone awakens through the grave.   Tolkien did this, too, in The Return of the King.

Discovery such as this, is ongoing, day by day:  the state of discovery tends to overlay and conceal its items, as it steams along.  It is a level of living:  the passion swiftly leaves the past behind.   But in the quiet hallmark of the Red Book and the converging Jungian hints recently, and the fact that my father introduced me to Jung (though it isn’t his way at all) – (he gave me Laurens Van der Post’s biography of Jung for my 37th birthday) – is a gathering together of threads.  For me, Peter tends to be a Messenger where major signposts stand.   He is there at the crossroads.   When he dies, I will find him still welcoming me at the crossroads, and passing it on.

Peter – whose process is somewhat more Zen:  he attends to the NOW –  observed rather stiffly that Jung seemed unable to escape Christianity.  Paradoxically, the items Peter passed over to me were usually Christian – like Jung … and the sacred geometry of Notre-Dame … an article in Resurgence about quantum-physics alchemy.   Peter was raised a Catholic and rejected it during the war.


26 October     Return

Home again.  Another equally wonderful long ride yesterday – Petrockstowe to Barnstaple, stopping from time to time, to read the history, talk to people and look around at where Tarka was born – near the waterfall and a little downstream from the stone canal-viaduct bridge:  also to understand the ingenuity of the architecture in the raised canal, its ghostly remains, and the steep inclined bit at Rolle where the clever Victorians cranked the watery conduit and its traffic up and down 40 feet between the woods and the riverbed.   The young guy mending bikes at the Puffing Billy told me one of his mates saw an otter today – they are coming back.  Salmon leap up the falls sometimes;  the otters like to eat them.  My daughter saw the leaping salmon once, when Peter took her for a drive/walk up the Torrington valley.

The weather all the way averted the sharp showers around Buckland Filleigh – just a faint spatter here and there, from far off;  warm blue sky and swift cotton clouds.   It was an easy ride up the line from Petrockstowe to Dunsbear – hardly any gradient.  I pretended I am on a Kabbalistic journey, and I “went up the Tree”.   I have the map in my body and being.   I am an old train.

I stopped at Bideford Station on the trail, for a bite – where a retired railway carriage is parked.  An elderly lady from Manchester runs the cafe in it;  she made me a delicious bacon bap and coffee, and I basked in the nostalgia of the crafted older trains with proper seats and windows (the modern cattle trucks insult their passengers) and took away two free Bideford newspapers.   Bideford is the Riviera-regatta of North-west Devon.   The revisit is enchanting.    I crossed the river and rode around the bright old town.   It was the gateway towards our family holidays on the Hartland coast, fifty years ago.

At Instow sands, I walked out across them to the water’s edge, little waves.   The brisk wind knocked Bike over, and nearly blew away my shoes – I had to run after them.

Instow sands looking across to Appledore - a Victorian painting

Instow sands looking across to Appledore – a Victorian painting


The hardest bit of the journey is the Barnstaple estuary because it is very exposed to the wind, and endlessly straight.  Footpaths off it invite you to the wild life sanctuary along the water-lands, which was reclaimed and nurtured by a Gaia society since the war.   This is an exploration for next time.   Along this five-mile part of the route, you have to be the sky and keep plodding.


When I arrived at the station, there was a train waiting, the guard said “Come.”   Bike and I hopped on, and off we went, back up the River Taw and down the River Something-or-other to the Exe and Exeter.  All the rivers were brown and swollen with huge rains, the trees waded in them, almost spilling into the bright green fields.   More rough weather arrives this weekend.

At Exeter there was only a ten minute wait for the Duchy of Cornwall to London, which was full up, everyone standing and disconsolate.   Here I discovered I had lost my purse, containing memory-stick and dongle.   The only place I could have dropped it was at the train cafe in Bideford when paying for my bacon bap.   Trying not to fret, during the long stand-up two and a half hours to London … how to contact that nice old woman in Bideford through the Tarka Trail management …

At home I cancelled my debit card, but at the end of the evening I FOUND my purse in the blue rucsac – where I had searched before, unable to see or find it in the hugger mugger cattle-express.




An Old Man and a Lamp

I know a young woman who got trapped in a broken lift with a powerful persuasive personality.  The P.P.P. installed his voice and his beliefs in her Systems Preferences.  Now the lift is getting repaired …

Mixed metaphor of being trapped in a lift with a maniac – and of the way a programme installed in her operating system is being gently de-installed; for re-programming.   The System board on our computer is where we have all our settings of time, memory, security etc.  Doesn’t this happen an awful lot in difficult relationships?

When I wrote “trapped in a lift” up there, I mistyped “life” – life with a maniac.   Most of us live with our Inner Maniac in some form or another;  and fine ideas get nowhere.  The Maniac might be projected grotesquely onto our environment;  when we meet and fall in step with someone who is abusive.   The inner Maniac is a negative archetype – something we came to believe in.   Now comes a working insight:  going back long before the pattern of abuse manifested …  what, in the soul’s hinterland, brought to the foreground this particular Maniac?

I got a feel for it just now, like the wind on my wetted finger.    Psychotherapy can touch the place, by feeling and holding that interior thread as it comes to life; and becoming response-able to it.   The language may be a past-life memory, or it may be existential, beyond speech.  Therapy with a wise counsellor, is as transmutative as the Alchemy which self-hears.   It is the same process.

Jung sat down with his clients, and they investigated the subconscious together, like two old philosophers.

If you begin to feel safe with someone, there are lurching episodes when you don’t;  and that is where the living thread – the fishing net – is tested.

Something profound in my subconscious, born to receive the Laws of Karmic justice, welcomed the presence of a Maniac in my life, and in someone else’s.   I see that influence now, and I see its victim, not as someone I think I know, but as the greater part whose history I don’t know, the part which entered my life stream with its own burden and agenda.   The confluence made me the richer in understanding, and broke many shells.

I speak enigmatically.   Insights arise, which I want to share right now, but confidences are kept. The bearing of a heavy Karmic burden is yet a centre of gravity and truth, and it inspires respect and affection.

oak and ivy


I am reluctant to write about people I am close to.  I am shy to, without asking them.  I select matters of common interest – things which happen to us all.

We had a really good relaxed time together.   His lungs are a bit watery.   We took the keyboard action out of the Basche piano – it is a Petrof baby grand, made by his Czech grandfather for a wedding-present to his wife – and filed the small knobs of lead in between each wooden key inside, with a nail-file, so they won’t stick.   They tend to swell in damp weather.   Then I gave the whole inside a good clean – a century’s small dust and lead-particles!   My great-great grandfather positioned the wood sections under the keyboard, now clean and good as new:  his handiwork, his touch.

The whole task required concentration, especially our accurate coordination together to lift the heavy action back into the frame.  Concentration on the job at hand, third eye focus, is really a simple key to everything.   Skill is wellbeing;  and skill is application.

I had a few happy hours with some new favourite bits in the Beethoven sonatas.   Spell them carefully, concentrating with the finger detail, and sometimes getting it nearly right;   climb the amateur mountain towards the astounding spiritual beauty of Beethoven’s musical thought.  He jotted it down as he walked and shouted in all weathers, among wet trees with an open coat.   I  dreamed once I met him too, in an underground room.  He had a small daughter, who had already lived so deeply it was beyond telling, in her eyes.

The Basche Petrof is a lively beast – the action takes some mastering;  the bass octaves growl;  a lyrical voice is coaxed forth surprisingly, dusky with the depth and song of old Beethoven.   This piano had a hard time when it lived in the damp Pittbridge valley:  it does a lot better on the hilltop with discreet underfloor heating.

Allegro from the Funeral March Sonata opus 26

Allegro from the Funeral March Sonata opus 26

The Petrof


My father calls the care home where he lives, “the community.” It has a lush green garden, a couple of stunted old oaks, and a few young apple saplings drop fruit.   Around the main farmhouse live three or four elderly and independent folk in their barns and piggeries.  Inside the house is a convivial bedsheet chaos of the demented, the bedridden, and the lonely dying.  The place prospers with friendly root fibres all over the region, linking to farms and villages.  They have good cooks, and a cheery Devon staff, and the architectural conversion is excellent – but carrying my father’s dinner tray back to the kitchen in the main house, I skidded on mud and the dishes went flying!    When Peter first moved there, the manager rigged up a video link from a nest of young blackbirds in the garden to all the TV sets – it was rolling news.   But the residents in their armchairs dozed.   When Peter was stronger, he helped with the garden roses, and pruned fruit trees in nearby farms.


lamp outline

We saw his neighbour again for tea.   He got out a pile of his watercolours to show us.  He also read out some poems he wrote when he was high.

When it is acute, it is indeed incommunicable.   Depression is an obsession with oneself.   Depression is an inability to concentrate on anything else, and the sufferer gets shut out from humanity.

I found the poems authentic, deep and interesting.   But for a tiny neural imbalance and the ignorance in medical and family conditioning, the sad old poet had access to The Path.  He said that during his “episodes” he starts to “save the world”.  I know that feeling, and  the intense sorrow of its non-viability.  Nowadays the drugs knock it down:  a culture of addiction and isolation, which knows no other way at the moment.  I gave him my address to keep in touch.

It is astonishing to find the red book in the barn.  Before the barn was converted, and the poet came to live there, it was full of old zimmer frames, spare walking sticks and puddles from a leaky roof.   The red book glows and shines forth from within the depression, just as it came forth from Jung’s dark night of the soul.   The depression is a slab which covers the secret fire, until it is ripe.   The depression is a charcoal burner.   Inside it there are pictures …


The Secret Dakini Oracle 37 represents TWO fires.  The fire in the background consumes the Earth (planet).  The flame in the foreground is a crucible of the Self, observing the other.   There is a radical letting go – a burning up – of past confinements and attachments.

Lamps get rubbed and release genies.   Dark,dirty lamps.

Most of the old poet’s landscapes are Devon and Exmoor scenes – knotted trees, fields and the colourful personalities of cattle.   He did a farming life.  In some of his more manic and radiant watercolours, he sketched a lamp of the soul – an oil lamp, clear and lit.  He fetched from another room the lamp which is their model.  I remembered the sound, the glass and chink of old oil lamps in cottages which didn’t have “the electric”.   Such a lamp with its glass amber glow, took us upstairs to bed.

The poet’s lamp was spotless clear and clean.  It is dormant.   It is in his life.

The issue of rubbing old lamps, and releasing the genie, is interesting.  The image was in my Watershed dreams from time to time, in the 1970s.   Old lanterns! – a pile of them – and old water-jars;  and changing the light-bulbs in hell.

The lamp is covered with Karmic smoke, and when Aladdin rubs it, out jumps an unknown genie in a snaky whirl of smoke and light, who asks him what he desires.

The genies are denizens of the soul.  Their first appearance can be very scary and unpredictable.

butterlamp - Version 2


Secret Dakini Oracle 27 – The Magic Carpet – takes us to the Arabian fables and Tales of the Lamp.

When I discover the Treasury of the Self, as Aladdin did with his Lamp, I then decide and learn how I will handle it for the rest of my life.   Learn the psychology of my wishes, and what they bring forth.

self portrait, 1975





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 also 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). Watch this space.

aquariel link – posts about Master R and “What is Love?”

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2013. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address


This is a wonderful piece about trauma, its discovery, its breathing-space and earthing. It comes right to where I am now.


This weekend I attended an illuminating workshop taught by Sarah Thomas of  Clarity Acupuncture. She described, from a Chinese Medical perspective, what happens to our bodies when we experience trauma.

Trauma, she explained, is so overwhelming that we simply cannot experience all of it in the moment.  As a result, the un-felt feelings get buried or frozen in the body.  How does this happen? Listen to this heartbreaking story:

The pericardium is the guardian of the heart.  Its job is to protect the spirit, the center of our ability to communicate and bring our light to the world.  The pericardium’s ability to open and close the gates of the heart is what allows us to love a friend deeply, yet take it in stride when she has a bad day and snaps at us.  It allows us to feel empathy for another’s tragedy, yet not cry at every…

View original post 1,158 more words

What is Thought?


visit 1986

Early this morning I was sleepless, thinking about a very distressing situation. A couple years back, a friend’s student son had a minor accident while cycling.  The person he ran into, said she is fine, no worries.  He contacted her next day, to check all is OK, then got on with his life and forgot about it.  This year an injury-compensation shark persuaded her to sue him for £20,000.   It is tied up in legal knots.  There is nothing he can do.

I often get spam messages on my phone, inviting me to claim compensation for my Accident.  What accident?  Oh! … “suppose there was one, a small cafuffle outside Sainsbury – less than 3 years ago, so it counts.”  If I fall for that scheme, I give to those thieves a power to GRAB – against the law, but legally.

Be warned!  Carry pen and paper.  If you are a cyclist and you do bump into someone, check their ID and driving license (the same as for motoring incidents), offer cash for any immediate damage (to clothing or whatever), then have them write “The matter is settled and I have no more complaints” and sign and date it.

Be insured.  This must not be allowed to happen.  We must ride alertly and stay awake – we live among predators.


i speak fish 2007


With this going round and round, I heard an inner voice say, “God grants humankind the use of thought.  All thought is God.  Humankind usurps the power and use of thought;  you think it is your own.  It is stepped down to locality.  It is blurred out of recognition and becomes your false tale.”

(“God” is extreme shorthand for “the Love which is All”;  the Power that knows the Way.)

This is profound about philosophy and psychology.  It is the knottiest question in philosophy and in life.  I have the free will to see where I have gone wrong, and to want –  decide to do better.

But … I am bound hand and foot by the mood-results of my erroneous thought, and the type of action or non-action it generates.  That is not free will.  As humanity you and I have ancestors and genetic history, and those ways of thinking also bind us to create reinforcing Karmas or tendencies to act.  I do.  As I have resolved to do better ever since childhood, and failed, but keep trying yet again and failing, that shows how hard it is!

mood 2007

I have the use of thought – the thought whose form is God’s in every atom, every movement of the river.  Habitually I lock it in dark depressed crevices, the tendency is to slither crab-like into these.   But those rooms and boxes are imaginary scenes; they are not REAL.   They manifest loved-ones who have difficulty and distress with life.  They drag my spirit down.   Well!  Respect those loved ones and their real landscape.   A light gleams somewhere through the clouds:  accept how it is for them, and don’t label it with my guilt and pride.

granite egg 2007

God grants me the use of thought:  the Great Mind or Universal akashic memory which contains and flows through my small capillary.   In meditation I seek silence, which is near to hearing real thought.  Real thought is not verbal.   Words – even the most wonderful ones – are just offshoots from the Real.

Words however, have titanic power to persuade and to veil.   They are contagious and they take up residence in our heads and hearts.  Depressed persons struggle with listening to verbal abuse inside themselves, day and night.

God grants me the use of thought, but I am a THIEF.  I take it as my own and turn it into something which it is not;  and then that something becomes a Magna Carta to live by, and engineers its own phantoms – a supportive environment of dismay.

Think of that!  I am a thief, every time I worry.  No wonder it is so exhausting.  Humans demonstrate the extremes of theft, when we abuse, pollute, steal and make war.  Making a God out of Good is no good.  What is needed is to relax, let go and receive the natural state which is humanely homogenous … whenever and wherever we can.

heart 2007

I feel that even the extremes of evil derive from the fundamental theft of thought from God the All-One, and the delusion that it is one’s own.  Any disaster can escalate from that.   And all such towers fall in the end, because they are not truth.

A light worker’s job is to keep recognising this.  That is what I do, all my working life, I catch and try to field it upstream.  Once I was partially successful;  my environment turned benevolent from that point.  But mostly the hay-load of thought-stuff rushes downstream, creating rapids, blockages and samskaras for generations.

I have a deep perception of the springs of thought and sexuality;  it is where the dew rises, high on the mountain.  In that element is dynamic peace.   In that element, thought is breath or eros in and out like the tide;  there is no conflict or pain.

Yet life being what it is, the element un-thought is enabled by admitting and allowing my interior deep grief and pain.   Nothing reached is static.  It is dialogic, moving back and forth – conversational – sharp inner grief and its delusion converses with the Light upstream.   It is in relationship, like day and night, and is not avoided.   God’s thoughts are light and dark, and I clothe myself with the darker ones, to hide.   Unconditional love includes this.

spiral growth 2007

Colour perception helps to clarify and detoxify my local thought.  A panel of orange, or yellow!   Good intention is not sufficient.   There has to be training – an encouragement of my mind-stuff to prefer a quieter and more spacious field.   It has to be enticed, like music, to concentrate.

Concentration is a faculty of JHVH.

A focused evil intention is deluded.  It is not allied to the concentrated Cosmic nature.   It creates suffering. Suffering blindfolds Reality, it scabs it over.   We are mostly scabbed over from remote evil inclinations, so that we suffer and scrabble to make ends meet, and obey the big media falsehood, and are distracted.

The Law is simple.  Do not cause suffering to anyone.   Be patient – have compassion with my own suffering;  and do not keep causing it.   It is my negative obsession or neurosis!   But cut the cackle and the pressure. Do what I feel and know is right for now, from moment to moment.  I am insuring my bike right now.

landscape 2007


“If we ask – enquire – whether mind exists, it will be found that mind does not exist. That is control of mind. Otherwise, if the mind is taken to exist and one seeks to control it, mind … is a thief being a policeman to catch the thief, i.e. himself. Mind persists in that way alone, but eludes itself.”

Talks with Ramana Maharshi
28 March 1935

mind thief police… he runs hard to catch
his own leg he tries to snatch.





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 also 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). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2013. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address

B.O.T.A.Tarot – Buttercups and Bluebells



In my B.O.T.A. studies today, I looked at Keys 1 and 2 – the Magician and the Priestess – to imprint their colour tones and musical pitch.  The Magician’s is bright yellow: the frequency is E natural.  The Priestess is deep sea blue: G-sharp.  Through them shine a little, the complementaries of 3 and 4 – the Empress and Emperor, who are green and red.    And there is the Fool, Key 0:  the adventurer in every Key.  His colour is pale primrose yellow, the tone of the Spirit.

A buttercup field:  a bluebell wood.

Tarot Keys 1/yellow and 2/blue, with the complementaries green/3 and red/4, showing through.  Additionally - Key 0 the Fool, who is in all the Keys - the adventure of the creative work

Tarot Keys 1/yellow and 2/blue, with the complementaries green/3 and red/4, showing through. Additionally – Key 0 the Fool, who is in all the Keys – the adventure of the creative work

The Magician, with his focus on the garden, begins a task.  He is our self-conscious intention, and on the Cube of Space, he is the top surface:  the Above.

Nothing can be done without the Priestess.  She is our subconscious, reflecting the Magician’s input,  recording and delivering everything he put there, or is able to modify.   She is the bottom surface of the Cube:  the Below.   She rises like a fountain or a well, through the garden.  She holds half-hidden, the Tora – the Akashic scroll.

Linking them, through the Cube’s interior vertical axis, is The Fool:  our supra-conscious or divine nature.  From womb to tomb he is our creative Adventurer, or Alchemist, and he dances inside the World.

I want to keep this post as brief as possible, and let the pictures and their colours speak.  I come back again and again, to the Cube of Space.  Each face, corner, edge and interior axis of the Cube has its own Tarot key, compass direction, and colour resonance.  The geometry of the Cube is a three-dimensional Seal of Solomon:  a pair of Tetrahedrons:  the hexagonal grouping of the sun’s rays.  All our life is in the Cube of nature, whatever we build.  The points of the compass are six – N,E,W,S;  Above and Below.

Diagram, cube, weathercock

Doing mental “colour saturations” is good for training and concentration.  My concentration became very poor, lately.  It is all over the place.  My colour practice is helped by visualizing daffodils – or buttercups! – bluebells … red geranium … violet pansy or iris … and so on.   Flowers are the colours which glow:  the gems of the soul which flow.   It is enough to make the intention strong.  The result grows organically.



Since my earliest interest in Tarot, I had a special affection/affinity for The Fool and The Priestess together.

…  but it is not a bad idea to strengthen his tonal resonance a little, from pale spring primrose to buttercup!   The Fool is all things possible – the ALEPH.  The Magician is BEIT, the Beginning.  The Priestess through the bluebells is the Moon;  the Fool is “Advaita” and the Magician is Mercury’s application among the roses and the lilies of our earth.  The pure enlightened Mercury has this colour:






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 also 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). Watch this space.

aquariel link …  to an inner journey yesterday, which touches on this topic

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2013. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address

Childhood Part Three – Broomlands




Years ago, I wrote down these childhood memories.  It was a time when I thought I had forgotten everything.  I started at age eleven, when I built a raft and sailed it on the pond, and worked backwards into time with whatever image arose next from my subconscious. It made me a “geological map”. It was a healing and integrating work.

This post is about when I was 8 – 10 years old.

The landscapes which developed my art and my in-built spiritual path – we moved house a number of times –  are of primary interest to me.  So it is the land and the flavour of the inner world I focus on here, rather than the taste of my mother’s cooking.  She gave me a lot of creative freedom.  The reach of childhood is so vast, that I can only touch on a few inches, here, and in the earlier Parts One and Two.


Nymph, circa 1957

Nymph, circa 1957


We moved from Cornwall when I was nearly eight, to a farm in Surrey between a bluebell wood and a string of big sand-quarries.  Broomlands Farm is near Limpsfield Common.

In Cornwall, our “geological backdrop” was the white china-clay pyramids near St Austell – we saw them constantly from our house, changing colour to silver along the skyline – and the granite by the sea.  In Surrey it was sandstone:  the quarries were our playground, russet and old gold, amid the constant scratching sound of the miners.

Limpsfield Common began at a place I called “Treasure Wood” which sprawled into the distance as far as the eye could see.   The Treasure Wood was a place where fields and agricultural control were arrested by a heather-like tide of magic.   My mother did not allow me to go there on my own.   She let me go for my long solitary wanders within the radius of four roads roughly encompassing our farm under the North Downs.

GALLERY – most of these photos were taken on recent revisits to my old home.


Our house was quite large and gracious in proportion, of mellow red brick with a rose garden in front,  a hen-yard by the bluebell woods at the back,  a long paddock to one side with a couple of tall dark conifers,  and the back door where the boots were kept.  The ridge of the North Downs was about a mile away, and the patterns of bracken and blazed out trails along it became a familiar seasonal script.  In front, between our garden and the quarry, was another paddock where bullocks tethered to posts trod gramophone records of earth around them in their grazing.

The prospect, looking down onto Broomlands,  was beautiful,  particularly when the azure of the sky fell down into the bluebell woods with radiance among the young trees in May;   but my father says this was for him a farm without a soul.  Perhaps it was the quarries in front,  great gashes in the land,  with lorries scratching by.  Or perhaps it was the farm men – he was the farm manager – none of them were skilled or bred to it.  We stayed there, as at Ventonwyn in Cornwall,  for two years.

Cupid and Psyche

Cupid and Psyche


Here, under peer pressure from my new school, I became “a boy”.  I gave up my beloved dresses overnight.  I wore shorts and aertex shirts, and dirtied my knees.  My romantic passion rekindled with horses.  I saved up all my pennies to buy pony books by the Pullein-Thompsons and Pat Smythe, and longed fiercely to ride. At Broomlands there were at last riding lessons, firstly at Miss Aylemore’s Stables in Limpsfield, which were rather smart – six shillings for half an hour –  then with Miss Rogers in Edenbridge, at the far end of Treasure Wood.

Miss Rogers was a little old lady, a lean and white-haired horse-lover, like a small brown nut.  She wasn’t bossy like they were at Miss Aylemore’s, and she took her pupils on long, enchanted rides over the Chart common.  Her small chestnut ponies were new to me, and heaven to ride.  None of them were lazy.  They frisked along the woodland paths, they were eager fellow spirits.   I remember magical canters over small hills, the thud of hooves, the rockings and droppings along mud paths and bending along the ponys’ necks through glades of low branches.

At home I fostered lambs who had lost their mothers.  One of these tiny ones was called The Brigadier.  I don’t know if The Brigadier survived:  he made a noble effort.  Their bodies are thin, firm-fleeced,  damp and warm,  their thick black legs stand splayed with knobbles,  their smell and bleat is heart-tuggingly sharp, like their baby hooves,  and you can put your finger in their ardent sucking mouths instead of into yours, when you are getting too old for it.

12 matilda's escape 57


I kept pace with my parents’ love for music.  My piano lessons began at age 8, with Mrs Bickersteth, the vicar’s wife in Oxted.  She taught me the staves and the notes:  Eat Good Bread Dear Father are the lines –  and F A C E  are the spaces between.  Her husband became later on, the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

I heard music always at home. I heard them learn piecemeal to play string quartets; night after night I woke to the “mummy-and-daddy noise” of Beethoven’s Rasoumovsky No.One, in slow motion, note by note like a scrubbing brush.

In bed at night, the soul wrenching realisation would come that I was asleep through the music they played downstairs,  I’d missed it,  I’d betrayed it by not being there.   I got out of bed and sat on the stairs to listen.  There was a terrible urgency in this.  I tried to memorize the tempo of each piece they played, and sometimes even the key,  so as to repeat it to them in the morning.   Sometimes I had perfect pitch.

Music has come with wrenching pathos through my dreams and woken me,  and I realised I’d been dead to it.  I’m chilly and sleepy,  yet I can’t go to back to bed,  or I will miss it.  I’ll miss the joy they are having.   I’m outside, looking in – the jealousy of the outsider who has lost the trail – the jealousy of the child who is sent to bed too early; and the determination with which, on our family drives into the hills or in train journeys through Scotland,  I would force myself to be aware of each particle of the scenery.  If I didn’t, I was unworthy of it, and had missed it – the desolation whenever in my heart of hearts I twigged I was not really interested, it had closed its face and voice to me.

The great deities of my parents were landscape and music.  If I did not admire these with all my heart and soul, I considered myself a philistine.  Quince and Simon were not interested – Quince couldn’t see, and Simon didn’t enjoy long walks.  I flew into a rage with their indifference, being at the same time smug.  We squabbled and bickered with relentless violence in the back of the car until Daddy exploded into a bomb or a mood.  Rage and hate there is, when one is shut out of the house.

 * *

GALLERY –  I obtained a copy of “My War” recently from a bookshop in Cornwall:  
the drawings here are part of the opening sequence.

Mummy was friendly with an abstract-painter called Stephen Szegedy-Szuts.   He and his wife Gwynnedd lived at Caunce Head near The Lizard in Cornwall, and they were magic persons.  I do not know if we knew them first in Cornwall, or later during the Surrey or Somerset periods, when we must have driven there for holidays with them.

Stephen had a halo of white hair, many wrinkles, and spoke in a sing-song soothing way.  He was old and mottled, and a wonderfully agile rock-climber.  He took Quince and me down the gully to the sea, and swam with us around the rocks like a seal.  He coaxed us shivering into the deep stony water among the big waves.  Then we climbed back up the gully to his kitchen, where he fed us every morning with a spoonful of: “When you have a cold,  always eat honey”  out of a large jar.  “In Hungary every child eats honey.  This is special honey from the acacia tree.  This is why they grow up strong and beautiful.”   He was, like many grownups, bossy.

Stephen told us tales of the winding Tisza river.   He had made and bound a book of his line drawings, called “My War”.  He drew in a funny biting way, like Gaudier,  and like the way he laughed.  “My War” was a tragedy, an artist’s poignant stand against “the killing”.  It had a fierce yet gentle earth-brown pungency, crisp on the page, like Jim’s pot-pourri or like rubbed red geranium leaves.

“In Hungary,” he told us, “ we have big fields of poppies and cornflowers, but no sea or rocky coast, because Hungary is quite surrounded by other countries …”  His house was untidy and overgrown with fruit trees.  We slept in his studio at night, we lay on the floor among an eery cabal of “unthought”  paintings.   They were strong guardian-spirits, and rather startling.  They saw in the dark:  he meditated, he emptied his mind to paint:  he painted what flew in and rested there.

GALLERY – these images from “My War” are online.
I don’t know for sure whether the painting – on the same site – is his.
I couldn’t find any of Stephen’s abstract works.  


(And now I have the book “My War” itself!  It is astonishing how familiar to me and close to my memory the drawings actually are.  I felt them in my being.  Then I got the book, with its thick textured pages – a copy which belonged to John Fowles –  and I can see them for real.)

Stephen’s wife Gwynnedd had rosy cheeks and flat straight hair. She dragged herself heavily around the house because she had arthritis in her hip,  and was always in pain.  She smiled, but you could hear the pain in her voice.   She seemed shy and slow.  She was eclipsed by Stephen’s personality.  They drove a very old car, with a boot which opened up into a little seat behind.  It was called a “dickie”.  They put Quince and Simon and me in the dickie when they took us for drives.

We had a book at home by Kate Seredy, called The Good Master.   It was the story of a very naughty little girl from Budapest, who went to live on her uncle’s farm in the puszta.   It was about how she learned to live in the country, and to love her new family.   At first she was immensely naughty.  She climbed on the kitchen rafters, and threw smoked sausages down at her foster-parents.  She asked where the phone was, and where the taxicabs were.  Her new foster-brother Jancsi thought these were swear-words, and was shocked.

There were descriptions as the story went on, of the decorated Easter eggs and the lovely clothes they wore,  the petticoats,  high boots, and wide white pleated trousers to ride in, the high grass in the meadows,  the poplars,  the geraniums, the shepherd Pista who told stories,  the embroidered featherbeds where they slept.   They had herds of wonderful wild horses, and the little girl learned to ride.

My mother had a book of the Tisza Tales, an old 1930s edition,  with colour paintings in it by Willi Pogany.   I now have both these books.

goose girl & mermaid

goose girl & mermaid


After Stephen died,  Gwynnedd had an operation and replaced her hip.  Suddenly she came out of eclipse and became a powerful person.  She tidied the house, got a new car, drove around all over Cornwall, and never stopped talking.  She said Stephen was a genius.  She kept My War and the paintings in his studio as a museum I think, because in later years I went back there to visit her, and saw them.  These buried memories just surface now, about the Szegedy Szuts.  I’m putting them here because it seems to be somewhere in our life between Cornwall and Broomlands.  I think I was just learning to swim.  Gwynnedd was eclipsed by Stephen, and then she began to shine.

Peter – my father – says he went to see Gwynnedd and to renew their acquaintance, just before she died,  around 1980.   She was now bedridden, but dignified, collected and lively.  She smoked steadily in bed, but didn’t set the house on fire.  In her youth she had been a very pretty music-hall artiste, she sang and kicked her legs about,  which our family considered rather shocking.  When Stephen married her, she did all the driving, he perched on her shoulder;  but after she became lame, he did all the washing up.

* *


A painting by Willy Pogany

A painting by Willy Pogany

Memories are bright leaves floating.  They enrich the NOW, for they are roots.  You have memories somewhere like these, or better still.

The sensation unsought of boundary loss, is near to myself.  It would come in my sleep, and sometimes arise and throb as daylight.  I’m a bed of something thick, enormous, red, black, yet colourless and unsounded.  It contains in my fingers, each a foot thick, its own shrill musical note of sound.  It is soft, yet massive like a valley or a round box.  It cannot be recalled, but from time to time over the years,  its echo comes unsought and stops, finds  and fills me.

It is found in the Broomlands landscape, a trace of it.  It vibrates with the gargoyle visions of Daddy’s war, that still sometimes came,  which exploded into a hundred grotesque red grimaces spluttering and flickering,  splitting the second – opening into vistas of golden palaces.   Yet instantaneously, it was gentle, old  and patient.   It only touches the border of awareness.  Its discovery makes me go still, so it is grace.  It comes unsignalled and then fades.

GALLERY – drawings from my “Art Not-Doing” series in 1987.
I had intended here, the red flower one which is about the breath and sensation;
but these were with it in my photo-file, and form a good sequence.

It is me.  I am not.  I am taken over.  It is huge, fat, warm and sharp.  It grinds, like my teeth.  The echo now comforts me, like something always known to me;  a smile within myself.  It has big hills and is the core of the valley.  It stops the clock.  Brave golden clock.  Blow, blow, dandelion seeds away.  A-tishoo.

brave golden clocks 1987

brave golden clocks 1987


My father’s parents lived at Fairmile in Chipstead.  It was at the edge of London, and not far away.  Mummy called their house  “The World’s Great Snare”.  When we went to stay with Granny and Granpa, we were told to mind we didn’t fall through the spaces of the upstairs landing to the floor of the panelled hall,  far below,  or we’d get killed.

Under the slippery wooden stairs they had a broom cupboard.  Inside the broom cupboard,  in my dreams at night,  more stairs descended,  dark and musty,  to a cellar underneath, hidden within the intensity of Granny and Granpa’s house,  and how careful you must be.  I came out into a long back garden with drystone walls around it.   It was full of blood.   It was full of dead beasts and bodies and white meat and blood and poor sore bottoms.  When Mummy had a baby she had a poor sore bottom.

I stood in the garden.  I had to find my way through.  She stood in the next garden by a wall, I could see her,  she called me.  Beyond her were the open hills and sky.  She wanted me to walk, to come for long walks with her.  I tried, but I could only move so,  so,  so slowly.

Other sensations were the discomfort of “jane”.    This would flood me with some force, and I cannot find it now,  I have to dowse … tentatively …  towards a once familiar misery,  whose imprint seems to have faded from my cells.  Alienation would enter,  a distaste for everything “important” that defines me,  and in which I am trapped.   I am named and placed, and sick.   It is acutely disagreeable, like being scolded and spanked.  It is acutely at odds,  as if I am a separate and phony entity encircled by the real world.  Perhaps it is like being deaf.  I vaguely remember –  yes –  a sense of dislocation.  Things are slanted, striated against me.  And I am too much.

I was fascinated by cruelty – to animals and to Queens.  I wrote stories of suffering Queens, who came back, lifetime after lifetime to the sad Karma of their own increasing beauty:   “She strived against progress.”  Many times I drew John Knox stabbing Mary Queen of Scots with swords, which disturbed my teacher at school – those sketches disappeared!

The inner world of a child is violent, erotic and aware.  The parents’ war memories are processed psychically; long fingers of history and the world’s shadow reach down the long leafy lane to Broomlands.  There is no “sheltered upbringing” in the collective subconscious.


I walked behind Daddy in the field when we went to look at the sheep.   I put my feet in his prints, in grass, mud or snow.  This annoyed him and he asked me to walk up front beside him.

I became a boy for three or four years.  I wanted to be a jack-tar in a clipper sailing ship when I grew up, and I wished I could have the beautiful muscles of men.  I obtained a pile of illustrated magazines called Shipping Wonders of the World about the great schooners that used to ply the oceans of the world. For a while, they were wonderful in my inner life.

I reared a large lamb called Laddie whose mother rejected him.   We played together when he was full-size; I was his human friend,  he came to no one else.   Then he went to the slaughterhouse with the other yearlings.  This did not distress me, because it was the way of things.  I wished I might be the one to eat him.  I wanted Laddie to pass right through my body, into the lavatory and back into the earth.  My fair-haired friend up the road, Felicity, who did not live on a farm, was disgusted at this idea.

I found it difficult to make friends.   My ideas about life were often indigestible to them, and I was a misfit at school.   But once made, I kept them.   I had a friend called Marion Black who lived very grandly at Compton Chase on top of the North Downs, and kept ponies of her own.  She told me one day at school that she didn’t want to take sides any more with the ones who bullied, teased and mimicked me.  She said “I want to help you”  – like a girl in a school story:  I suspect her mother told her to.  We became close, and went riding together.

Young dancers in treasure wood

Young dancers in treasure wood

We knew the Winnicotts – they were old friends of Jim and Helen Ede, my mother’s parents  – and went to stay with Alice in her seaside cottage in Newquay, West Wales.  She had generously – we were told – left Donald so that he could go to live with Clare in London.  Mummy told us, “Alice is very, very vague.”  She lived on a cliff right over the driving waves, put out her tongue when she talked, and wore droopy cardigans.  She wasn’t a real grownup.  The sea-mist came right into her terraced cottage and put out the fire.  Quince liked the childish songs she sang, but I didn’t very much.

19 sketching at Newquay


Mummy gave Quince and me our first rock-climbing lessons in rocky amphitheatres which began where the little road along the cliff ended.  I think Simon must have been too little to come on this holiday.    I  sketched pebbles and  rocks on the beach with Mummy’s fountain pen.   We helped Alice with the groceries.  Alice’s fierce sister Pauline Taylor wore a jacket and tie and jodhpurs, lived inland, and kept a Palomino pony stud farm.  I was smitten with these beautiful dark golden ponies, the colour of burnt toffee with their white manes and tails.  I already loved them desperately, and longed to ride.

I’m having an argument with Mummy just now about this.  She says I had already begun to have riding lessons at Miss Aylemore’s in Limpsfield,  but it seems to me that at eight years old, the desire burned within;  the photo in her album, of that small girl in jeans holding by the end of a drooping rope, a dozing Palomino stallion, trembles with an awkward pride as yet unfulfilled;  the pony’s back is bare.

Newquay in Wales is a grey and weatherbeaten place of great charm.  I returned there often in my dreams, thirty years later.  The pebble beaches were now mighty chambers of dark rock dramas, some of them crumbling into the battering sea.  In slumbering harbour pools, I must have been a fish,  because in a dream in 1988,  at a time of breaking inward,  I was hooked with a line through my nose,  and pulled out from the water onto land.  It was very painful.  This always struck me as remarkable.  Fish are our dreams, they live in the deep.  The Companions of the Light in the upper worlds play the line;  they hook us sharply, to awaken into a higher element.  At first, like being born,  we cannot breathe,  for the air,  the hook, is too sharp,  it burns.  And why there?   Why at Newquay in Wales?

There was no more humiliating sight – also in Newquay – than that of two old people sitting in the front of a long old car with its nose pointing uphill on a steep street in Wales – I was eight – and looking patiently out of it while they press its starter again and again.  Sometimes it whines and they have to wait for a while.  This makes me sick.  It makes the blood pour out of my backside.  I want to smash it and them inside it to pieces.  It is the most horrifying and meaningless thing that I know.  It is monstrous and shouldn’t be allowed.  It is obscene.

Mummy and Daddy did all they could to help me with my fear of cars not starting.  I knew the starter was a little horn, which connected electrically to the spark-plugs.  When you pulled or pressed it, it made this sound.  That’s all.  But my rationale couldn’t reach the sick reality.  I think there was always a joy of relief and self-assurance when it started without any trouble.   Is this why I don’t drive a car, to this day? – I took my test three times but didn’t pass.   Inside the car – the in-carnation – there is for me, a loss of independence.


These mermaids – one on each side of the paper – were drawn shortly after we came to Broomlands.   They appear to have been a gift to Mrs Willis, my primary school teacher in Cornwall – but I guess my mother didn’t put them in the post …


The farm buildings and abandoned implements at Broomlands were a child’s paradise for games, climbing and exploration.  By now I was fired up by Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to hunt for secret passages.  We got inside the corn-drier through the grid, and crawled up the narrow, curved canal, down which the hot air blew when they switched it on.  By a miracle, this never happened when we were in it.  I often shudder now, to think of it.

We had to put on special old sandpit clothes to go in the great quarries near our house,, and take them off outside,  because the heavy yellow element stained,  it  permeated our fingernails and hair and everything we touched.  Sometimes we set off landslides down the quarry cliffs and ran all the way to the bottom with the plunging fall of sand.  We made a long, long slide where the sand had hardened.  Again and again we flew down it on our sore and tattered behinds.  Steep, rock-hard and perilous it was, till the weather changed and softened it again to wet dust and mud.  We came indoors, dark yellow from building labyrinths of interlocking tunnel systems, letting our hands meet under and over.

bedrock scourings


My brother Simon was mad about lorries, bulldozers and long-longs.  He intoned their  holy names – Foden,  Atkinson,  Seddon, Dodge,  with the starry-eyed reverence I had for queens;  he knew all their cabs and drivers.  Some of the lorries were very old, rattly and raucous, with snub noses and bitter eyes.   They trundled up and down through the quarries all day long for Simon’s delight,  except on Sundays when they slept.  Bulldozers squatted in the pit like prehistoric monsters.  They slowly and throatily moved mountains and tracked caterpillar-trails across waste land.  When it rained, the gashes filled with long puddles and reflected the sky.  Simon loved anything on wheels that went brrrrrrmmmmm.

Simon had toy lorries and trucks, which worked hard all day.  In bed at night he sometimes sat with his eyes wide and shining, because he saw an angel.  Once, in a great strange bed in a different house, he was found crawling around at the bottom of it and crying: “I can’t find my place for sleeping.”  When life was difficult, or when he needed to be alone, he would go to his bed to booddup.  He rocked on all fours rhythmically, throwing his head forward against the cot bars.  The sound of his boodduping filled the house with a sense of peace.  When he wrote letters to Jim and Mam he told them about the lorries and then said  “I am very tired.  I’m going to boodup now.  Love from Simon.”  He found writing difficult and may have been dyslexic.  He had a lanky striped friend with floppy limbs, greyish head and ears, and bright button eyes,  called Blue Bunny.

the friends

Quince had her large doll called Judy and a friend called Big Teddy with golden fur.  But she could pick up a stick or a bunch of grass or piece of wire anywhere and turn it into a doll or creature, to people her long Tragic Stories, as I called them.  She  chewed grass stems to make hair for a girl,  and bent a piece of wire into legs for a boy.  She walked around all day, eyes and puddocks (chubby hands) busy with her wide world.  It was only discovered years later,  that she was short-sighted.  She hardly ever stopped talking, and when Mummy couldn’t stand it any more,  she made Quince sit on a stool in the kitchen and try very hard to say nothing at all for three whole minutes – sometimes she got through half a minute.

Quince liked eating sloes, unripe gooseberries and other strange sour things.  When she was very little, she made me shout with laughter by putting them in her bottom and pretending to be an Old Woman.  Mummy came up in a fury to scold us for not being asleep in our beds.  She took one look at Quince and burst out laughing herself.

When I wasn’t quarreling with Quince – we fought a lot – I listened to the Tragic Stories,  enthralled.  They were very dramatic indeed, and mostly about school; about friendships, abandoned children and betrayals.  Perhaps they gave me a reprieve from my Queens.

We had hens in the back yard at Broomlands, and kept cats.  We had a herd of dairy cows who were milked by machine.  When it was very hot, Mummy hosed us in the yard, along with the cow-pats. The cowman was called Mr Heritage, and his wife in the cottage down the lane, gave us jelly babies.  In the bluebell woods behind the house lived many frightened pheasants and a game keeper.

the pits, growing over

I went for long walks at dawn, through the woods – where I began to imagine Granpa Adams watching me after he died.

My dawn and sunset walks were mystic journeys.  Sometimes I crossed the boundary of the four roads.  I ventured up onto the rough slopes of the ever-tempting North Downs, to walk those paths that blazed at me from afar.  Or I would explore the whole string of the sand-quarries, easting my way along abandoned clover fields between them.

There was no point in farming these little isthmuses of land.  Here the quarries themselves were silent craters, scantily furring over with grass and willowherb.  Their creeks gleamed through the bushes.  This land is ever a warm land.  It is golden with summer and the slow buzz of insects.  It is intense with the wonder of the explorer who must go just a little bit further, and the lateness of the hour is approaching violet.  Unknown sandy paths entice my quest along secret cliffs to a ridge, a fence beyond which I must not go,  or I’ll be late home and Mummy will worry about strangers and bad men from London.

There are black cranes and dredgers and ugly buildings of corrugated iron, majestically dark against the flaming sky.  Why was the sky on fire?  Why did the sun seem to set in the east?  A horse canters along those gloaming fields.  There might be plains of soft exposed dry mud as far as the eye can see, like the tale of Rapunzel and the wandering prince.  I am taken to dreamland.  Worlds from different patches of time seem to merge and cohabit, and one leads on to another. I came home and told Mummy “I walked six miles.”  But it was probably no further than two.

This is actually a drawing of someone I loved.  But it is a view from the woods near Grubstreet, Limpsfield, down onto Broomlands and the quarries

“Woodland, 1986”. This is actually a drawing of someone I loved. But it is a view from the woods near Grubstreet, Limpsfield, down onto Broomlands and the quarries


In springtime the blue sky fell to the ground.   The misty radiance of the bluebells pooled around the slender trunks of white  birches.    I got into trouble with Granny – Mother Adams – during her visit I rushed off on a walk or to see my friend Felicity.  Granny was in the car, just leaving, and she said “I am most offended.”  I had not realised she could be angry, but now I saw she was bound to be.  I had done wrong, and I didn’t know what to say. ‘Sorry’ was not enough.

Living now near Fairmile and the Surrey Tribe, we saw quite a lot of them.   Daddy said they all spent too much time indoors watching television, eating white bread, and breeding like rabbits.   His sister Betty had a brood of six, in an enormous property called “The Cottage” at Biggin Hill.   Her husband Jack was disgracefully rich –  he had a thousand pounds and drove a large Bentley  Daddy proposed we should drive past “The Cottage” in our car and call out at their gate, “You’re a Jolly Unhealthy Lot.”  My parents were obsessed with garden vegetables and healthy ways of living, but suffered quite a lot themselves, from colds,  septic cuts,  bad backs and smouldering marital turbulence.

Daddy took some of my projects with my friends at school seriously.  With Deborah Nelson, Marion Black and Sarah Fraenkel,  a “Nature Club” was formed.  “You’d rather be a girl,” they jeered at me when they first came to tea and I had put on my best dress;  I turned into a boy overnight.  We never wore dresses, and we enjoyed tough boyish games.  We conceived our ultimate dare – to walk from end to end of the long railway tunnel through the Downs just north of Oxted Station.  We would lie down between the railway lines if a train came and we couldn’t find a manhole – wearing farm sacks to protect us if someone in the train went to the lavatory overhead.  Daddy supported our plans,  and made helpful suggestions –  to my private dismay and terror.  I was scared of the noise the trains would make.  Daddy was a great tease, and our great initiation at the last minute only, did not materialise.

with marion & friends in broomlands

Sarah Fraenkel and I played an easier game by ourselves, in the school playing-field:   “Let’s climb up each other and disappear!”  We tried as hard as we could, but fell into heaps of helpless laughter.  At the bottom of the playing-field was a mulberry tree where silkworms were studied.    The headmistress was called Miss Pace.   She was a small wrinkled person in brown;  she sang hymns in a quavery treble,  wore a wig, and was  strict but warmhearted.

I earned pocket money to buy pony books,  by scything thistles,  and by walking over the fields and across Limpsfield Common to school,  instead of taking the bus.   I saved a penny-ha’penny each way.

The book I wanted was called We Rode to the Sea.  It was a thriller about children, ponies and thieves in Scotland, the most beautiful country in the world,  and where the most tragic of queens had lived and suffered.  We had books at home about the hills, the lochs,  the skies, the glens and the gneiss.

Loch Quoich

A geological wall map of Great Britain hung in our house, with every sediment a different colour.  We saw the underlying shapes of everywhere we had lived.  Floating splotches and dots of the interweaving rock revealed our well travelled land.   The Yorkshire Moors were an amoeba of ancient pale yellow upon slanting primary-coloured striations.  As a Capricorn child, I am at home upon these shapes.  As a painter in later years,  I would potter absorbedly along a chance brush-stroke;  next to another colour it  brightened,  and I’d get lost in tiny places of wonder,  in the dreamy litany of the pre-cambrian and mesozoic strata that sleep under the fur of heather, field and forest,  and their sudden openings, faults, or “extrusions”.

Glen Trool, from Buchan Burn

Glen Trool, from Buchan Burn

High lochan on Eigg - April 2000

High lochan on Eigg – April 2000

I was proud of my great romance.  The language of the Scots became my passion, the lilting geology of the Highlands.  I had a book of tartans.

At school we had to present a lecture:  I chose Scotland as my subject,  and described each picture of beautiful wild moorland in the book.  The teacher told me I used the word “very beautiful”  too many times.

Most of the children at school had rich parents – the last word in lipstick, pencil skirts and high heels – who collected them in large shiny cars with fine sleek faces.   Mummy and Daddy now drove a secondhand pre-war Rover with a long black bonnet and a tiny starter button.   It didn’t always start well, and I didn’t trust it.

Quince became in those days lame.  She had “cramp” in her right hip. She talked about her leg, how it hurt.  I sometimes felt it too.  Once after riding with Marion in her paddock on the north downs, I walked back to Broomlands, and the empathic cramp in my hip was so painful I barely made it back home;  Mummy came out in the Rover to look for me.

And ice I remember.  Ice in white sighing slabs and pools among the ruts by the sandpit.   What a lot of friendly local boys there suddenly were.  We slid, fell and skated the light fantastic winter sky.  When the year warmed, our games changed,  we became hunters and quarry,  the hare would set off with a bag full of torn-up paper and lay false trails, spoor and signals all across that land,  across the sandquarries and over the fields.   It was our last spring at Broomlands.

oaks in treasure wood

oaks in treasure wood

Daddy was anti-blood sports.   He quarreled with his boss, Major Leverson Gore of Titsy Estate, who wanted to foxhunt across the land and past our house.  In fact it was the hunters’ tradition to stop for lunch at our house itself ;  we arranged to be away on holiday when this was due.  Major Leverson Gore was at first a genial squire, and invited farmer Peter Adams and his young family to Titsy, outraging his mother with whom he lived.

Peter had a curious effect on his employers.  They were drawn to him, and he clearly kept a school tie somewhere, but they couldn’t decide which side of the salt to place us, at table.   Relations with Major Leverson Gore deteriorated sharply over the blood sports issue, and we moved to Somerset.  At the eleventh hour of our notice to quit, Peter got a successful job interview, and found our new home – a rambling manor near the Quantock hills, owned by Showerings, the Babycham people.   Here we settled down.


In the Treasure wood
are silver beech and golden oak.
Violin and cello, half quartet
sawing Rasumovsky* back and forth,
they carried on their backs the wood for the kitchen oven
to warm unmothered lambs inside.

Decoding “In Parenthesis” by David Jones
they reared brats, shut up the hens,
fed men and braying beasts,
dug garden, quarrelled, hurt their backs and
bashed their hands, picked
primroses, brewed marmalade and
drove to the winter sea for Christmas.

In their wood
with Eliot and Dylan Thomas,
Krishnamurti’s “pathless land”

*Beethoven’s Rasumovsky No 1 quartet – their practice ground after our bedtime





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 also 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). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2013. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address

Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of Ace of Arrows/Swords

Guardian angel or deva, 1991

Guardian angel or deva, 1991


Almost a month since my “Preamble to the Suit of Arrows“!  … where Rohit’s Introduction to the suit, and why he used the Bheeshma episode in the Mahabaratha may be read.

Additionally, to sum up:  in my view, the Arrows or Swords represent the play of Light in creation over and above and permeating … the Karmas in the world which carry out the action over many generations.   This applies to a series of lifetimes, or to the birth-pangs of a society.

The engraving below, shows the stuff going on in our physical and psychological universe, and the astonished wonder of the pilgrim when he breaks through the starry veil to the Laws behind our patterns and beliefs.

There is the divine engineering:  it falls to the slow interfacing with human evolution to rectify apparent discords among the divine prototypes.  We work in tandem, but often without clear vision.  The levels do not always blend;  the friction manifests at the level between the outer battlefield and interior progress.

old Kabbalah engraving


Rohit’s Notes (2004) – “Ace – Bheeshma blocking the Ganga”  “This is the discovery of his son by King Shantanu.  Bheeshma, still known by his first name of Devavratha, is playfully holding back the Ganges, by building a dam of arrows across the flowing river. He should be depicted about to release a single arrow into the river already dammed up by his shafts. 

“If there was any way to depict the river as the fluid body of a woman, or as a stream which coagulates at a far corner into the serene face of Ganga, taking pride in the prowess of her son, it would be wonderful. 

Kailas and foothills

“We need lots of blues and white in the card, and indeed in all the cards of the suit.  Shantanu can be seen on the opposite bank, amazed at the wonderful young man.  Bheeshma should always be clad in pure blinding white, to represent his complete life long chastity and sinless nature, as well as the somewhat naive and innocent side to his nature that never left him.  

“Also he was first a warrior and then a spiritual giant, so at all times of life he should be represented as exceedingly muscular.  The English Longbow had an average pull of 180 pounds.  Bheeshma’s bow could not be strung by anyone else – no exceptions.  That takes tremendous upper body strength.”

Visual reference - the young Bheeshma holds back the Ganga with a mesh of arrows.  From an excellent book of strip-cartoons on Indian mythology which Rohit sent to me for imagery and ideas

Visual reference – the young Bheeshma holds back the Ganga with a mesh of arrows. From a book of strip-cartoons on Indian mythology which Rohit sent to me for imagery and ideas.

“What is found here – is every where. 
What is not here – is found no where.”

Ved Vyasa, around 1700 BCE

In Rohit’s book with the Sacred India Tarot deck, he states challengingly:

“The Mahabharata begins with misbehaviour in heaven and ends with catastrophe on earth … … It is one of those beloved boxes within boxes tales, each story links to another and yet another, until you realise that to know this tale is to understand comprehensively the Indian Weltenschauung.  Every Indian, including those who are not Hindus, seems to know the major section of the narrative by a process of cultural osmosis.  The characters and incidents have been internalised to an extent that is simply incredible …  

The story of Bheeshma, narrated in the Suit of Arrows, provides the unifying thread in this bewilderingly glorious tapestry.  Bharat his ancestor, was the first emperor of mythic India, and the epic named after him deals with the transformation of the spirit of the age – the Yuga – from the Dwapana Yuga to the present Kali Yuga.  It is a process that sees righteousness and virtue decline to a quarter of the world’s consciousness from an even scale in the preceding Yuga.  The old world dies and with it, its values;  what will the new world bring that justifies such ruin? 

Kabbalah 1989 blade

“Thus the Mahabharatha is the centre of a rapidly transforming world, where old certainties don’t work, and which, abandoning all values, thrums out a seductive promise of apparent success.  The intelligent characters in the epic are agonised at the world they are both dissolving and creating – much concerned with morals and ethics, with ways of being, with value systems, with good governance, with the position of women in society, with the seductions of worldly glory and the irresistible call of the Spirit to renounce the world for the greater glory of God and, above all, with the very definition of what constitutes virtue itself.  These are eternal human verities and account for the perennial grip the epic has on the Indian mind.”

In other words:  a preoccupation with the laws of conduct, in harmony with the cosmos.  Through the epic, Lord Krishna takes up arms as divine warrior for the Dharma here on Earth.

He “articulates one of the most potent spiritual concepts ever known, the doctrine of Nishkama Karma – desireless action as a practice of Yoga.  It has only assumed greater significance and validity as human life continues, ever more complex and overwhelming.  There is no need to retreat from the world, one can creatively engage with it and force the vicissitudes of life to provide the catalytic ingredients for a vibrant spiritual awareness.”

Looking at our own lives, we may see what challenged us, and made us grow.   The message throughout the suit of Arrows/Swords is not comfortable, but creative.

Sacred India Tarot - Ace of Arrows

Sacred India Tarot – Ace of Arrows


What is Bheeshma doing here – powerfully endowed in his upper body, as is told ?  What cosmic movement is slowed down and impeded, to enable the enactment on Earth?  There has to be a “working together”, it seems.  Mother Ganga has seen it all:  she gazes right through the event and all its titans, into eternity.  Water becomes always its own.  The fallen arrows form a lattice, a mesh, a weave, conforming the great waters in a gorge, to the slings and arrows of human fortune.

I have a recurring image of a river which is held back for a while, by a dam of twigs, leaves and debris … even a civilization.  In due course, She loosens the epic impediment, piece by piece, and the waters are released, carrying it with them, with a tremendous force.




When I painted this card I was – not surprisingly – aware with the eternal feminine, and of the male effort throughout his-story to shape and confine her-story to his belief.   She is the Daughter of the Mountain, and older by far, than any tale.   The River is the movement of the Mountain from the Sky.

The young Bheeshma by blocking his Mother Ganga, is harnessing his feminine nature … for a position in history. Rohit asked me to depict him and other characters in a Balinese way, to indicate the universality of the epic.  (But in the later cards, I reverted to the Indian warrior type.) The Mahabharat in the osmosis of every Indian child, appeals to each recognition of ourselves in the human race.  The name “Bharat” is “India” which we all carry in our bloodstream.  An English friend of mine watches the movie of it whenever she is feeling stressed out, because it gives her a strange peace.  As in the greatest fairy tales, she observes the denizens of the Dark and of the Light in their proper confrontation.

The young Bheeshma by blocking the Ganga, looks down upon an epic war:  the interwoven strategies of the Arrows.  He now aims his bow into one spot, which will pinion all the rest in position.  Such is destiny.

I just noticed a rainbow in his bow … the gate of primordial fire, water, air.  His feet are planted in the rock, which is earth.  She is his Mother.

As Rohit writes – “The casual and skilful expression of supernatural ability announces a heroic destiny, but his Divine mother’s sombre countenance, exulting in his prowess, yet serious, shows more than mere maternal apprehension.  The gods know best this truth.  Deep is the flow of Karma; and Destiny may bring change of a startling nature…

“The Ace of Arrows always has this sense of cool, irresistible power, but those who wield it very often find its might is uncontrollable.  It has a habit of rocketing to the precise point in your Karmic life-path that you do not wish to engage with, that being contrary to self-image or desire.  The Ace of Arrows is very high in spiritual energy, and in spiritual rewards given, but its methods cause trauma even to the most accomplished …  

“What intellectual input can you bring to bear on this situation?  What do you need to give up, let go?”

SITA ace arrows Mother Ganga





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Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.


Jane Adams

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 also 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). Watch this space.

Aquariel link

All original art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address