Saturday, 28 March 2020

Pleasant characteristics of Vulture

For yesterday's blogpost I had contacted Tanya Casteel, asking her permission to use her beautiful painting of the bird. She granted me permission after I had posted the blog. Here is her lovely image of Vulture now, imbued, as I see it, with traces of an Aurora Borealis expressed in the hues of eternity -

I have allowed the moment, and Tanya's artwork, to inspire me to read up more on Vulture. Two characteristics that are highlighted are that Vulture naturally shares his food with his own kind - you will not find a vulture greedily gorging itself on its own, before the others can get there. On the contrary, the bird spreads information about where a carcass may be, so that as many as possible of his kind can 'help', so to speak, to clean up.

Secondly, as far as I can tell, it is the only raptor who does not kill other birds. In fact, I hazard to believe those who tell me that it does not kill anything at all.

These are pleasant characteristics to consider when thinking about this mighty bird.

I would like, further, to think that ingesting bones, as vultures are able to, could grant a seer's inner radiance, such as Casteel's image seems to pay homage to. 

Friday, 27 March 2020

Dream of the vulture

I dreamed of a vulture.
She (or he) was immense, perched in a room, or house, full of people.
I did not know the people, but I did not feel a stranger.
I did not know the room or house, but I did not feel uncomfortable.

She was an exquisite specimen, with large wings of feathered ivory. Her neck ruff was a dark chestnut colour. Her head was beautifully sculpted and her eyes were bright, alert and calculating, clearly judging the extent of the space.

I could sense that she wanted to open her wings, but I could not see that it would be possible for her to do so in the constricted area she, and we all, were in.

She was as tall as I was, almost - certainly her body was the same length as mine, but how much stronger than mine by far were her creamy shoulders!

None of my books on animal medicine and symbolism have anything to say on Vulture.
So I searched the web and came upon a page on artist Tanya Casteel's website, with a beautiful image and card (Vulture), and found these words:

"Vulture as a spirit animal symbolises purity, restoring harmony, preventing the spread of disease, and being noticed for what you do instead of how you appear ... Vulture is there to restore harmony to forgotten places."

The great bird is also associated with humbleness - "No job is too small, dirty or unimportant. They all matter!"

I have seen the Egyptian goddess Isis - one of my personally most beloved mythic figures - represented with the powerful wings of a vulture, which she uses to restore breath into her husband's, the god Osiris' vanquished body. The quiet, intent vulture in my dream was perhaps a visitation from that ancient energy serving the cycles of life, who knows?

Francois Forichon, watercolour, 1911

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Wild Voices and Greater Matter - a chronology of purchases and words

Last July, I bought Wild Voices Messages from the Soul of Africa, a beautiful and helpful book and card set. 
I met the author, Anne Keating, at the launch of Greater Matter in October. 
In December, she wrote me the following response. I thank her for her permission to quote her response, as well as to share her poem, Wild Goose
Here is her email:

Hello dear Silke
A stunning, amazing piece of work Silke, wrought from so much god-damn honest pain – flip.
I’ve read it three times and I know I will come back to it.
Thank you.
I want to share some of my story of how I remember Norman ...
With love to you


Here is the poem:


I come to Greater Matter
Who is this woman
Who speaks of Love and Death
Who takes poetry and writes a book
With a beginning, a middle and an end,
and in that order?
Soon I am intrigued captivated absorbed
Sometimes the story holds so much grief
I must close it,
open the small window in my loft for fresh air
Look down to see the living
Branches sway
Gentle Ngunis, halo-horned, moo.
Our lungs easy to fill,
an insult to the struggle I read of
... and I remember the Norman I knew.
The Bard at High Riding
once a near neighbour on the mountain,
Wrote Tim and me a poem about
labyrinths, souls and the wild goose:

Our hand-built labyrinth, “Wild Goose”, radiates between two spreading
This long year so lovingly constructed
concentric earth paths,
tumbled river-stones and lavender
will guide the pilgrim
to the sacred centre
giving succour.
At last we complete the circles, tuck in the last stone

“This deserves an Opening Ceremony, maybe poetry and wine...”
Norman agrees.
He writes:

The soul goes its road:
this way, that
- restless;
a slow spin
to its own heart
- a wild goose
spiralling in
to land.


Dismantled before Silke’s Great Suffering
This labyrinth was a place of joy to many pilgrims.
Guided by the sacred wisdom of the river-stone spirals
They spiralled to their centre.
They found their Wild Goose
And stroked his white neck
with reverence.
Silke, now the Bard at Wild Riding,
through spirals of ache, has watched her “soul goes its road”.
Confounded by pain
Yearning her lover...
Yet, resilient, she now recovers her centre.
Powerful, she holds this place.
With tenderness she strokes
the strong white neck of her Wild Goose.

                                        - Anne Keating

I am, now, no longer at High Riding, but, due to the enforced lock-down I am finally able to engage with and study Wild Voices as I intended to do when I bought it. How I look forward to absorbing myself!

For more information on Anne's book, please visit Wild Voices

If you would like a copy of Greater Matter, please email me at
Alternately, if you would like to order my book via Amazon, please click on this link Greater Matter

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Helped by a hook

This morning, as I walked along the shore of the lagoon, something sharp sank into my foot.
I winced and kicked, and a snag of weeds and fishing tackle spun itself more tightly around my toe.
I pulled out a rusty fishing hook.

In German, when there is a problem, we say, "Wo ist der Haken?"
Where is the hook?

Where is the hook when things don't add up, when they don't make sense. In English, I suppose, the sentiment would be translated as 'where's the catch?'

Among all the different levels of reality there are, most are not immediately apparent.
The hook was not visible in the sand. But once I felt it in my toe, I could see it and remove it and dispose of it safely.

The snag, which keeps tugging at me during these strange, unforeseen days, is: who is there, who still trusts their experience, their own eyes and ears? Who, in the noise of news and numbers, is able still to hear their own impersonal, intuitive voice?

We tunnel in to our laptop and cellphone screens, but the sky does not disappear.

The rusty fishing hook helps me catch myself. For I must be helped to retain a hold on myself in these times.


Friday, 13 March 2020

A gecko amid the boxes

The trailer thankfully fitted through the gate, and ferried over a hundred boxes, and furniture, down the curving driveway under the hazels. Some of the pot plants were wheeled down by hand. I still owe the mover in question a reference - what a formidable team he oversaw.

Our first visitor amid the boxes was a tiny gecko. From behind the kettle his soft, translucent body and gleaming eyes peeped at me. Fearing that he might scald himself against the steel, or perhaps simply out of childish excitement, I tried to catch him and eventually succeeded, though he leaped with his suction pads beautifully, like the lightest little spiderman, from counter to wall to cupboard door.

I let him out among the round and oblong rocks I've lugged with me a second time round now, piled into an attractive feature with succulents and offering ideal hideouts for small dreamers such as he.

The Medicine Cards book, created by Jamie Sams and David Carson, declares Lizard to be the totem animal of Dreaming. Its magic is to dream the future he wants.

It was a baby gecko. Unparented, he knew how vulnerable he was.

The move has taken its toll on my body. I cannot do any physical work now, unless I do it very slowly and deliberately.

Amid the chaos, I dream of dreaming.