Has the weather been doing the crazy where you are? Oh here, too. Sunny, rainy, warm, cold…it’s been quite the ride this spring. But goodness, all that fresh greenoutside keeps stopping me in my tracks in delight and wonder. The plants and trees are positively giddy with the additional rain we’ve had the past month. So much so, some are having a sudden growth spurt unlike anything I’ve seen here in years past. It seems I can actually see them growing!
As we move closer toward June, I’m find myself more and more in that liminal place of between here and there. We leave for Mt Rainier on June 9th and my inner planning geek (there’s an archetype for that, right?) seems intent on taking over much of my days. But I’m also glorying in the fullness of spring here. Flowers bursting into bloom in the garden, the busy nesting birds and their fledglings, scurries of squirrels romping in the yard, early mornings on the porch with coffee and notebook as I soak it all in. Pure heaven.
I want to be as present as I can with all of these wonders and not miss a minute. So, it’s a dance between what is happening here and now and the big transition coming in a couple of weeks. But as you know, magic resides in these liminal places of in-between. Rich magic. Creative magic. Magic that surprises us even after all these years exploring its contours.
That is, if we can stay present with this in-between place of here and there, then and now. Feet firmly standing on the ground where we are, attending to what’s happening around us, and a twinkling eye on the path ahead (and on check-lists in my case 😉 . The energy calms here and supports us. And at the same time, it opens us to even more potential and possibility for the coming days.
What has helped the most in navigating all of this is staying active in my Field Notebook (which is, in essence, my “everything” journal, the companion to my days and where all the magic and wonder I experience and create is held). It helps me pay attention. What a powerful anchor to the here and now it is, as well as a way of looking out to the days to come. Visioning, planning, musing, considering. It all goes in there, along with notes, thoughts, quotes, images, sketches, hopes, dreams, wisdom, messages, intuitive sparks, flow-writing, connections, brainstorming, inspiration, observations, questions. It’s a container for holding, learning, appreciating, noticing, honoring, weaving, exploring, discovering, and creating something new from all that goodness. That’s a lot, right?
But I find it all happens quite naturally.
Much of what I teach and share at the Mojo Lab focuses around the magic we can conjure in our lives through our creativity and intentions. That intersection is endlessly fascinating to me, especially when coupled with a deep connection with Mama Nature and the more-than-human world around us. Collage is a potent vehicle for this kind of creative magic, as are many forms of art, writing, and craft. But the humble journal is an ongoing act of that creative magic, energized every time we come to the page. It’s not a one and done. It’s a process, a practice, a method of wayfinding. A creative cauldron.
This kind of journaling is a special form of magic, a sort of spellwork. One that creates change and transformation, shifts energy, helps us re-member ourselves, triggers growth, brings clarity to our needs and desires, and engages our creative spirit.
And of course, as soon as I started musing about the magic of a journal (or field notebook…or whatever you call your paper familiar), suddenly all kinds of interesting and related things starting popping up all around me. Isn’t that always the way? You’ll find some of those treasures in this Field Notes dispatch as well as other curiosities and delights.
Yours in wild wonder and slow magic (and blessed adventures in-between),
- Work: Just plugging along here behind the scenes and online. I’ve been focused on holding private client sessions, opening the doors to the Summer session of Seasons of Wonder, and continuing prep for Softly Wild, which also begins shortly (June 3rd). Yep, the two courses have overlapping schedules and both officially start around the beginning of June. As I said in my last dispatch, that means you have multiple options for adventuring with us.
- Listened to (Audio Book): The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley. I loved her first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and have had her new novel on my to-read list (or rather, my to-be-listened-to list) for several months now. So glad I decided to jump in. It was just as immersive and delightful as the first, but even stranger (wonderfully so). And the ending was just as satisfying. I love this kind of magical realism (animate statues? living stone? oh, yes). She’s one of those gifted storytellers that is anything but predictable.
- Listening to (Music): Superhubby discovered the “Soundtracks” station on Pandora last week and we haven’t changed the station since. It’s an inspired compilation of movie scores by wonderful composers and ranging widely – everything from Out of Africa to Avatar – and all truly gorgeous. It infuses the studio with the perfect background vibe for writing and creating.
- (Re)reading now: I’m happily entangled again in one of my favorite books, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane. As soon as I opened the cover last weekend, I was sucked right back in. His writing never fails to astonish me. He’s one of a handful of writers who seduces me into a more languid reading pace to fully follow the unspooling paths of meaning with the words he lays down. Gorgeous. If you’ve ever read any of his work, have you noticed the way he activates and animates plant, animal, and landscape with the verbs he uses? Like this:“I went through a narrow tunnel of spindle and hawthorn. A brown hare belted along the track, halted, regarded me briefly, then pivoted on its hind legs and dashed back off and away, as if committed to the path’s pursuit. Within an hour the sun was fully out. Skylarks pelted their song down, lifting my spirit. Light pearled on barley. The shock of the crash began to fade away. Hawthorn hedges foamed white with flower and wood pigeons clattered from the ash canopies.”
Verbs aren’t all he makes dance on the page. There’s nothing passive or common in any of his descriptions…
“I met a covey of French partridges with their barred sides and Tintin-like quiffs; three cock pheasants with their copper flank armour and white dog-collars (hoplite vicars); a grebe on a pond, punkishly tufted as Ziggy Stardust.”
- Listening to (Audio Book): Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. This is Book 5 in the Earthsea cycle and is a collection of short stories almost novella in length that expand upon the previous books and move into new territory (past and present in Earthsea time).Oh, and I switched from Audible to Scribd as my audio book source. It’s less expensive and you get unlimited audio books, ebooks, and articles for around $9 a month. The first month is free, so I’m trying it out. So far, I’m loving it. Yes, I can check out audio books from the library for free, but the wait lists on them ridiculously long (like multiple months). So far I’m finding Scribd’s inventory to be pretty impressive in terms of authors and genres I like.
- Looking forward to (AKA, multi-pronged anticipatory glee): Good Omensstarts next week; Downton Abbey movie (September), Dark Crystal prequel series (August), The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris (a Chocolat sequel! July), and Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane (June 4th).
- Impending Fun: This delightful AI mythic romp with Robin Sloan. Yep, at only $1.89 I immediately signed up, filled out the collaborative questionnaire, and am happily awaiting delivery:“This is an experiment in AI, collaboration, and fiction. You, an apprentice mage, will define the parameters of a quest against the Dark Lord. You will receive a map (!) and a short story narrating that quest.”
A Tiny Cabinet of Wondrous Things
Here you’ll find a collection of curiosities and creative bits of magic found lurking in plain sight ~ in the physical world and in the wilds of the interwebs.
Robin Sloan mentioned this little bit of parenthetical trivia in a recent newsletter:(“Grammar” used to mean “magic.”) That got my attention. Looked it up and he’s right. That explains a lot, no? Especially when thinking about the magic of writing in our journals and notebooks. This reminded me of the magic of naming things, of the power of the true names of things (such as in Le Guin’s Earthsea booksand Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind), as well as the casting power of the spoken word.
That “thought-trail-as-rabbit-hole-dive,” and my current re-reading of Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways, made me pluck The Lost Words: A Spell Book off my shelves to revisit. This is MacFarlane’s gorgeous collaboration with illustrator Jackie Morris. It’s a book they created to summon back into being words about the natural world that had been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. From the introduction:
“You hold in your hands a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words. To read it you will need to seek, find and speak. It deals in things that are missing and things that are hidden, in absences and appearances. It is told in gold – the gold of the goldfinches that flit through its pages in charms – and it holds not poems but spells of many kind that might just, by the old, strong magic of being spoken aloud, unfold dreams and songs, and summon lost words back into the mouth and the mind’s eye.”
And as a side note, of course the whole etymology of “grammar” thing made me check out the origins of the word “spell.” I mean, how could I not? The word “spell” means both how we arrange letters AND a magical incantation. That tweaked my curiosity. Alas, it turns out those two meanings have completely separate etymologies and aren’t actually related in historical meaning:
” Spell referring to magic incantation is of different origin. That word is strictly Germanic (from the noun spel) and refers to talk, storytelling, gossip, and a sermon. It also is the derivative of gospel (which translates to “good tale”) and is the source for the magical power and enchantment senses of spell.”
But it’s still pretty fun in the context of keeping a journal/field notebook, no?
And for the magically inclined among you, check out Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink by Susan Pesnecker. It’s a combination handbook for writing and a primer in writing spells. I stumbled across a copy at Powell’s Books in Portland some years ago and couldn’t resist. On the back cover:
“Get your creativity flowing as you step into a boundless world where magick comes alive through the written word.”
It’s actually quite a good writing handbook and the magical extras are truly fun. And of course, it’s another curious branch of this investigation into the magic of journals and notebooks that I’m exploring (rabbit hole disclaimer). And yes, there’s a chapter in it about keeping a journal. Of course there is.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.“
~ Stephen King
(to which I’d add:
“as are journals,
perhaps even more so…”)
Know someone who would enjoy reading this? You’ll receive my deep gratitude (and bonus house points) if you’d forward it on to them.
Not subscribed but would love future Field Notes dispatches delivered straight to your inbox all magical like? Easy to do. Just pop over here.