Blind Spots and Racism

yinyang

It’s been a turbulent start to the year here in South Africa. Amid dreadful drought and searing heat, water shortages, a falling rand (our currency), bleak economic prospects, failing parastatals, protests, poor education, rising unemployment, rising cost of food and much else that is dismal, it seems as if racism is not about to end anytime soon. The rants of others towards others on social media have been vicious and pernicious in their name calling. We’re pulling each other apart –

When, if ever, will it end? The outpouring of hatred continues unabated and many of us wonder if these are diversions tactic used by divisive factions that are not representative of S.A. as a whole, and if there’s something afoot to hi-jack the unfolding of our beautiful country to its full potential. Is racism rearing its ugly head at a crucial time in our history with elections around the corner inter alia, in order to keep our eye off other pressing issues mentioned above? Does democracy take 50 years to stabilise? 

But, racism is real, its wound is real. We fail ourselves and our fellow human badly if we don’t uncover our blind spots which are by definition invisible. Blind spots, like deep wounds, need uncovering for them to be seen for what they are. The invisible festering wounds if not acknowledged can wreak untold damage without treatment – and continue. As Freud said regarding the repetition compulsion: history keeps on repeating itself until and if/when we learn from the lessons of the past. The underlying dynamic or theme is compelled to repeat until the lesson is learned and the pattern finally broken.

The blind spot is in my view fear: fear of the other; and here I’m speaking of the other within our own selves which we do not acknowledge and is thus projected out onto the other – so we fear the other, who ‘is not like us’.

If I look at this psychologically in terms of our past and on a wider scale, I remember when we feared the red under the bed, or the yellow peril, or the hippie era and the larger freedom of sex. Here in South Africa, during apartheid, we feared the black man. We whites mostly lived in an ‘us’ and ‘them’ cocoon enforced by the regime of the time and of which by extension, we were a part. Too many of us, the minority by 1:10, were fearful of the black majority in some defined and undifferentiated way. We were kept separate, blacks from whites; separate facilities; separate entrances and exits. It was institutionalised – though it takes two to tango –

Why this fear? Is it possible that the very qualities that we projected onto the black man, the other, was our own darkness that we vehemently denied was a part of us? Far easier for us as white South Africans to say from our position of supposed superiority, that ‘the other’ was lazy, irresponsible, superstitious, savage and brutal, irrational, envious, jealous, had unhealthy sexual drives, desired power above all, ambitious, greedy, and this projection of our own undesirable qualities was made easier by virtue of the colour of the skin of the other.

How much easier it was for we whites to put ‘out there’ our own maelstrom of darkness rather than acknowledging that it is within ourselves –

 We see ourselves in a certain way that fits in with our tribal or world view, the way we’ve been conditioned by family, religion, society and culture. We like our comfort zones and stay away from being challenged for fear of re-shaping our thinking and acknowledging and re-cognising what is sometimes unthinkable.

We, no-one, sees ourselves as cruel and inhuman. But history tells us another story. We fear the unknown stranger within ourselves and do not want to bring that unknown part of ourselves out of the shadows. That part who is very capable of hate and hateful speech and action. We know that we may have the best intentions in the world with regard to ourselves and others, yet we are very capable of being destructive. In our everyday lives we overeat, waste water, drink too much, continue with violence in one way or the other, distract ourselves with matters that have nothing to do with soul-searching. What we do to ourselves we also do to the other; what we do to the other we do to ourselves. We cannot continue to use ‘the other’ as a scapegoat for the ills that plague us. Our souls cannot continue shrinking. 

My son David put up a Facebook post yesterday morning of a song he composed on Sunday night, reflecting how he feels as a white South African. I’m excerpting his words on his post prior to the song ‘Make Amends‘ and then an excerpt from his song.

His words prior to the song excerpted:

“… I believe there is a great responsibility for white South Africans to undergo deep introspection and gain understanding of why things are the way they are in SA to avoid any further racial tension. If we can humble ourselves in order to gain understanding of each others views … that is a good starting point to making change. It may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary….”

An excerpt from his song:

‘I know that I’ve been quick to blame,

but it’s only because I never saw your pain.

And in the past I was quick to talk, 

Until I took the time to walk a mile in your shoes.

It’s a life I would never choose,

Now that I see your point of view

And I’ll never comprehend the cost of the

cross you’ve had to bear,

I hope we can make amends….’

He received many comments on his FB page mostly encouraging, a few damning saying this doesn’t cut it or go far enough. That’s not really the point; being responsible for his thoughts and feelings and expressing them allows for personal change which has its effects on a larger scale.

I believe we all have a healthy desire, perhaps somewhat still unconscious and not yet differentiated, to unify as a nation, between all peoples. Do we need to be torn apart and rendered still further? As much as we have an archetypal desire for union, do we also fear it its polar opposite: of being subsumed by it? It’s such a huge task, holding those opposites in the alchemical vessel that is South Africa and allowing the transformation to finally begin – by bringing the outsider and insider closer together – warts and all – shadows –

The wilderness is within – I am not madly sure of Jung’s exact quote: ‘The jungle is in us, in our unconscious’ – it is our task to encounter and bravely explore it –

This post is far longer than I initially imagined – and I know I’ve barely scratched the surface.

We’re still in Plettenberg Bay, returning to Johannesburg in a few days time. Last week when my brother was here with us, my elder son Mike, Christopher and I went for a long walk on the Keurbooms beach. It was a misty-ish sort of day, and I never wear a hat of any description any time. But the heat on my head was fierce so I wrapped my beach scarf around it. We came across this ‘totem pole’ that was on the beach – which reminded me of building – and balance – and solidity – and beauty – of which we as South Africans are capable.

totem pole

Yes, the cracks are showing in our democracy and wonderful constitution – that’s how the light gets in – 

There’s a crack in everything

amaryllis

I bought this pot plant – amaryllis – about 2 weeks ago and have been watching the buds blossom. I had no idea how beautiful it would be. I’d bought another one about 3 weeks previously but I gave it away as a thank you to someone who was very kind about delivering something at no charge – a new mattress actually, for my housekeeper. Such a nice man, Mr. Clifford Lyons of Lyons Wholesale. What a pleasure to have it on hand (bought by me, for me, that morning) and give it to him – I hope his bloomed as beautifully as mine – he said his wife loves gardening so I am sure it brought them both joy.

Last evening I was outside in the coolth of the night wondering if I would put up a blog post today for New Year’s Eve. I didn’t really want to say about this past year which has had wings of its own supercharged aerodynamic batteries. I would have had to put my thinking cap on to look back – and the batteries are now flat. I was thinking of some lovely books I devoured e.g. ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’; ‘The Light Between Oceans’; ‘Girl on a Train’ and several others … then I was thinking of music and my Willie Nelson CD’s that I play sometimes when I’m at my desk. I’m a country gal at heart.  What really is my most favourite song? Leonard Cohen’s ‘There’s a crack, there’s a crack in Everything’. I was pretty sure that I didn’t put up a blog last New Year’s Eve but I went to have a look – and indeed I did! Similar title!

My son Mike helped me ’embed it’ – (whatever that means). I love the sentiment of the crack – that’s how the light gets in. There are so many ever-widening cracks in our world these days yet I find it hopeful that this allows for light. And without researching it properly, I do know that ancient pottery was the more valued for the cracks it had which were painted over with fine gold – not to hide, but to emphasise – and value –

Many of us are missing loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s more sad and sore over this festive season and New Year when the bells ring in change. The longing for those who are no longer with us can make the crack a little deeper …

‘Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in’ –

 

 Dave my younger son, Juté his fiancé, Mike my elder son – taken in early December. Dave & Juté marry in March 2016.
IMG_0724 6

I took this photo today of Mike and Toko, his old prep school buddy. Toko and his family is and always will be a treasured part of our family. They were setting off for golf with Neil … still to change their shoes and golf shirts …

IMG_0741 3So, the New Year is upon us – may the bells ring how they may and make beautiful music. May our hearts and souls continue to deepen and take root and blossom. May the path with its cracks lead to peace, joy, fulfilment, compassion, creativity – within and without –542591_620348161315085_803962571_nAll my very best and warm wishes for a blessed 2016!

Solstice, Christmas, New Year

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Image: courtesy etsy.com

‘Solstice’ is from the Latin: sol:sun; sistere:stand still. For a nano-second there is a pause – then the turning towards a new season begins. An ascent and a descent occurring at the same time – and we hold the tension of the opposites.

 The summer solstice is today in the southern hemisphere – the longest day of the year, the shortest night. Most mornings I’ve been awake at 4.30 and it’s already light. Up here in Johannesburg on the highveld (2000 metres above sea level) it gets dark only around 7.30 p.m. Down south at the sea, night time falls only around 8.30 p.m. It’s both a still point and a turning point –  it gets lighter fractionally later and darker imperceptibly earlier – 

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, your winter solstice means the longest night and shortest day of the year – and slowly, spring with its promise of hope and renewal approaches.

May the winter and summer solstice’s stillness be the precursor to the turning point for our world as we approach the new year.  May we rise here in South Africa and stop already with the slanging matches across all spectrums. It’s been a very difficult and trying year here. We are more, much more than Zuma (our president) and his sycophants. We have very good people within the government but it seems all their hard work is overshadowed by corruption and greed. World wide as well – let nations and its peoples rise into their full potential. More than anything we need peace, compassion and goodwill on our planet. There is great uncertainty around the world; we’re saturated with bad news. Where do we stand in the midst all of this? Yet, this allows for a deeper consideration of what it means to live our lives as authentically as possible not only for ourselves but to help others too in whichever way we can.

May we revel in Mother Nature’s rains and thunder storms, bringing much needed relief to the drought in our land and a break from the devastating heat we’ve been experiencing.

May the snow and coolth be beneficial and beautiful in your part of the world. Each snowflake is a part of the snow fall –

The Christmas cake was made by my good friend Nicki, and the remaining mince pie is the last of a home-made batch by her sister Leigh. Mince pies (18) and Christmas cake were received this past Saturday – I’m saving the last one for my younger son Dave when he arrives on Christmas Eve and we’ll cut the cake on Christmas Day.

Christmas Cake

The card was created by my elder son Mike

scott_christmas_2016_v1

Thank you all so much for your friendship and support to my blog. I so appreciate this community – more than words can say. In a significantly meaningful way my life is enriched because of you. Thank you!

A very Happy Christmas and festive season to you all and may the new year bring health, joy, peace and renewed creativity.

Mandela 2 Year Anniversary of Death

2 years on – my post then on Mr. Mandela’s death. Yesterday, here in South Africa there were various commemorations going on, past clips on TV. I thought I’d check out my post from 2 years ago, and am re-posting it today –

Our absent father – o how we all need leaders such as he in these troubled times – peace and reconciliation –

 I woke up to the news at 7.00 a.m. this past Friday here in Johannesburg, South Africa. It seems that many had heard the news in different parts of the world before we did. The announcement was officially made some hours after his death at 8.50 p.m on Thursday night.

Did it ‘help’ that we had been expecting his death for a long while now? No, not really. Death is always sudden and shocking – it’s so final –

Friday was wet and cool. I was in my car much of the time; hearing people call in to the radio station expressing their shock and sadness was a release valve for me. I was in tears most of the morning with ongoing pangs somewhere in the region of my heart. I got to the clinic for my afternoon shift just before 1.00 and saw a prominently placed large table inside the clinic with a large head and shoulder framed photograph of Mr. Mandela placed against the wall. There were zillions of small, already burnt candles on the table. Again, that pang – I looked for a lighter but there wasn’t one. The girls at the rooms said that earlier in the morning all the candles were lit and the entire staff of the clinic had gathered around the table singing and swaying. Pat and Lyn said they had never heard anything quite so beautiful or seen anything quite so moving. I can only imagine – plaintive, beautiful singing, chorus, dancing, ululating –

 I remember that day on 27th April 1994 when we cast our vote, black and white, voting for a democratic South Africa for which we had fought so long and hard. O such a day of celebration! – those long, long queues from early morning to late at night, walking alongside fellow human beings to cast our votes, the majority of whom had been denied the vote since 1948. Also, such celebration when he was released from prison in February 1990. We came alight and alive. Such a sense of rightness and gladness, a sense of practical freedom at last in the air, each having a vote, breaking from the bonds of apartheid, and separateness. Voting for Mr. Mandela as president of our beloved country. ‘Never’, said he, ‘Never again. Never again will we have one claiming superiority over another ..’ *

I saw former President Thabo Mbeki addressing people at Oxford Road Synagogue last evening wearing a yarmulke, on TV, emphasising the need to remember Mr. Mandela’s life and all that he stood for; and to remember the constitution as the struggle continues for inter alia economic freedom.

The spotlight on him during his lifetime will be on him again as people from all corners of the world come to pay tribute to him and to mourn his passing. 85 current heads of state as I write, 10 past heads of state, royalty, dignitaries, eminences, the famous, celebrities .. …

We celebrate his life at the same time. A beautiful paradox. Or, if not a paradox, most certainly a bringing together of those two seeming contradictions. We mourn the passing of Mr. Nelson Mandela, and celebrate his magnificent life, for which we are in eternal gratitude. As we mourn our loss, so are we celebrating his life. There is a reconciling of those two powerful emotions, coming together in a magical way, uniting our nation. Us, as South Africans. We, as people. It is a shared pain. And a shared remembrance of all that he stood for. Prepared to sacrifice his life no less. There is unity amongst us, of all shades and hues, of all ages, now, as a nation, as we mourn and celebrate.

The world is arriving on our doorstep here in South Africa. It’s already begun. We have MAJOR security issues to attend to. We must deal with all unprecedented, convoluted logistics in a practical way as we are about to experience a particularly large event in history.

Mr. Mandela will be laid to rest on Sunday, at his home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the Wild Coast, the Transkei – on the other side of the Kei River. He was born into royalty of the Xhosa clan, of the abaThembu tribe in Mvezo; his father was deposed as chief magistrate when Mr. Mandela was 5 years old, and Qunu became their refuge and home. He had a happy childhood it seems and developed a deep love for the Transkei and its land, people and Nature. Qunu will be descended upon by thousands, including the villagers from that rural area and further afield. There is a memorial service tomorrow at the FNB stadium, more commonly known as Soccer Stadium, in which we hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup. There will be thousands and thousands of common people, people like me, as well as heads of state and dignitaries and attendant security. I trust we will rise to this monumental practical task of ensuring security and smoothness for all.

Imagine, on the outer level, as an act of homage to our Madiba –

It is not the time for anxiety right now. We have a common purpose in celebrating and mourning and our attention needs to be there. It is a loss, to each of us in some real way, to our country as a collective, to the wider world …

I would imagine that from next week when all have left to return home, and when the dust begins to settle, we will, as South Africans, sigh a collective breath. But when we gather our  breath again, will we continue to honour Madiba and all that he stood for?

We will have to take a deep collective breath of courage when the dust is at least partly settled. We have huge issues ahead. The freedom of the press is under dire threat. As I write, the owner of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings who recently bought Independent News and Media PIC (for a cost of $194 million) has fired the executive editor from The Cape times for reporting on alleged corruption within – just this past Friday. Our public protector Thuli Madonsela is under fire from parliament and the government for her exposure of corruption in the government. We have gantries for road users that have just come into effect about which we are protesting. We have an election looming next year. There is much else that is of great concern. Education is an ongoing worry and a disaster for the masses.

But, for the moment, it is not a time for anxiety about those matters. It will be though, and we will continue the struggle in Mr. Nelson Mandela’s name. It is necessary to make Mr Mandela’s name continue to be an inspiration to us – keep him alive as a symbol of reconciliation.

I hope that we as South Africans, will rise to this, once the dust drops. It won’t be easy. Hopefully, those who have visited from different parts of the globe will also let his name continue to inspire – we are grateful for your outpouring of shared grief and respect.

Hambe Gahle, Madiba. Go well, rest in peace. We will never forget you. We will honour your legacy. Thank you.

* My son met him some years ago at his home in Houghton when his school jazz band performed for him. He was fit and well and my son knows that he was hugely privileged to have Mr. Mandela shake his hand and beam on him. He made this song some years later in honour of Madiba’s birthday last year in July 2012.

The link below is ‘The Kifnness’ recording of ‘Never Again’. http://soundcloud.com/thekiffness/the-kiffness-never-again

Colour me Blue

Colour me Blue

blue sky

hydrangeas

The skies are blue with cloud about, some flowers are blue – and I feel blue and cloudy inside. I am beating myself up for this blue feeling when I have so much on the material level. I want to give it all away and have nothing. Start off over again with a blue slate. I want the world to start all over again. There is too much bloody red.

I am pondering my white privilege. There is still too much poverty in this country. Too many unemployed and rising in spite of 21 years of democracy. So much blame and hatred and stuck-ness. Too much crime, some petty many gruesome. Too many daily deaths on the road from bad driving.

blue

Another suicide – this time on Friday night in the complex where I live. Someone saw him on Friday during the day and he was jolly and cheerful. My husband, our younger son up from Cape Town for a few music gigs and I went out for dinner on Friday night and we had a gay and fun time. I walked into it on Saturday morning when back from a delightful 2 hour hike, when his wife had just discovered him. She had been away; just back. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I am trying to locate inner peace. I meditate most mornings when I wake up and sometimes go for an early morning walk when all is quiet and still. The news on the radio assaults me while we have our morning tea. My stomach turns. I think about the day ahead and how to use my time fruitfully. We had our last meeting yesterday at the school where I volunteer twice a week for poor readers. Many of those young ones come from dysfunctional families. Much looks bleak on the educational front given the government’s poor track record on delivery of basic amenities to schools. Children come to school already tired from leaving home at 5.00 a.m. 

The polarised views and opinions all over social media are alarming. It’s them against us and ne’er the twain shall meet. Fear abounds in dark threatening shadowy colours, choking and cloaking over love and peace.

My salary check was in my bank account this morning. I can buy whatever takes my fancy. I can donate money to a worthy cause. I can clear my cupboards and take clothes and tinned foodstuffs to a depot for those whose shacks were devastated by a fire or their tin roofs blown off by hailstorms and are left with nothing. I can hand out bananas and water to the beggars on the road as I drive here and there. I can drop off a small thank you gift and card for the woman who helped me find my keys in a shopping centre last week. I can do this and more, yet I still feel empty, powerless, bereft …

I water my indoor plants and am pleased to see the yellow ones spruce up and look angelic.yellow

I look at the first sky and cloud photo I took this morning and imagine I can see a child praying. 

I’ll look out at the almost full moon tonight and say a silent prayer for peace to prevail upon our precious planet, and may we all find the love in our hearts to extend goodwill to all. Peace is the path …

Thank you for listening

I was on the Way, too ..

I was on the way to –

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I was out walking early this morning. We’ve had a very welcome break from the heat in the last few days. This recent coolth is from the Drakensberg mountains, south east of Johannesburg 500 kms or so away, which are covered in snow. In winter those grand mountains are always snow-covered; parts of South Africa do sometimes get snow, but snow in November anywhere in South Africa is extremely unusual.

We know that the weather patterns are extreme throughout the world.  We hear it on the news. Mud slides, tremors. A friend of mine in Canada was saying how the the trees were still so beautiful, adorned in oranges and reds ..

Here in South Africa we’re in drought. I wrote a post or two back about The Rain Queen. Up here on the highveld, we have summer rains and they usually begin in the first week of October. We’ve had precisely two rains in October, none this month – and no rain is in sight or forecast. Meanwhile, down in Cape Town, 1600 kms away, they’ve had floods. There is talk about water restrictions. Farmers are desperate, the animals too. I water my garden only after 6.00 p.m. So far it still looks pretty and vibrant though my orchids are now kaput.

I was on the main road on the last leg of my walk this morning. The traffic was intense as it always is. People get to wherever they’re going, early. A red car pulled up onto the verge ahead of me, helpfully pushed by another man who, when the car was at standstill walked on, on his way. The number plate of the car was interesting … THEIS, then the numbers, then GP (GP stands for Gauteng Province or, as we joke, Gangsters Paradise). I wondered idly about ‘the’ and ‘is’. Theistic? A young man got out of the car.

Can I help? I asked. He’d run out of petrol. I pointed – there’s a garage just there. I noticed yesterday, he said, that I needed petrol and that’s where I was headed. I was on my way to fill up he said –

Walking home, on my way, I wondered about being on one’s way and then – too much has happened within my personal sphere just lately. An unexpected and tragic death of a lovely woman I knew from the complex where I live, from an embolism while recuperating in hospital from a back op. The suicide of the husband of a very dear friend of mine in the U.S.. Illness of one kind or another of dear friends. Tremors all about. Not only within my personal sphere but in the world on all levels. 

http://mindfunda.com is a lovely site hosted by Susanne van Doorn in Holland. I wish I had more time to absorb many more of Susanne’s contributions, of such value. I listened to a few of Susanne’s interviews last evening, two brief ones of Anne Baring, British Jungian Analyst. Baring makes a strong plea for us all to hear the call that comes from within, to pay attention to what is going on within and without not only for ourselves but for Mother Earth.

She also put up my article on Eve as Goddess on Wednesday … http://mindfunda.com/eve. I hope you pop by and check it out.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

Excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank

Excerpt from The Diary of Anne FrankAnne Frank

*Wednesday, 13th May, 1944 ‘:..As you can easily imagine we often ask ourselves here despairingly: “What, oh what is the use of the war? Why can’t people live peacefully together? Why all this destruction?”

‘The question is very understandable, but no one has found a satisfactory answer to it so far. Yes, why do they make still more gigantic ‘planes, still heavier bombs and, at the same time, prefabricated houses for reconstruction? Why should millions be spent daily on the war and yet there’s not a penny available for medical services, artists, or for poor people?

‘Why do some people have to starve, while there are surpluses rotting in other parts of the world? Oh, why are people so crazy?

‘I don’t believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war. Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.

‘I have often been downcast, but never in despair … (in later paragraph/s, same entry) Why, then, should I be in despair?’

She wrote this from the ‘Secret Annexe’ a month before her 15th birthday in June 1944. Her last entry was Tuesday, 1st August 1944. On the 4th August the ‘Secret Annexe’ was raided and the Jewish prisoners taken to Westerbork, the main German concentration camp in Holland, before being packed off in cattle trucks to Auschwitz on 3rd September. Anne and her sister were sent to Bergen-Belsen in November where in February 1945 they both contracted typhus. The death of her beloved sister Margot, broke Anne’s spirit and she died in early March, 1945.

I finished reading her diary on Sunday. It has my maiden name inscribed in my hand, so I’ve had it a long time. I picked it up off my bookshelf a week or so ago. She was given a diary, her best present, on her 13th birthday in June, 1942, not yet incarcerated. In the foreword by Storm Jameson, he writes that her writing ‘…came as naturally as song to a young bird’. Her diary is an extraordinary piece of writing in which she reveals her self. Her first entry in her diary is dated Sunday, 14th June, 1942, two days after her birthday when they had not yet had to escape – She dates all entries with the day of the week, and dates and addresses her diary “Dear Kitty”.

Somehow, I felt a need to put up her words above – perhaps they’ll give cause for pause in some way –

*The Diary of Anne Frank pages 186-187: Pan Books Ltd; 1973.

Heat, Rain, Queen Modjadji, the Rain Queen and Rugby

Heat, Rain, Queen Modadji, the Rain Queen and Rugby

For days and weeks we’ve had extreme heat, everyone enervated, warnings re keeping hydrated and animals too. Average temps for October are 27 degrees C. We’ve been having temps of 35, 36, 37, 38, even higher in surrounding areas. (Down in Cape Town it’s still cool-ish). Rain usually comes to the highveld within the first week of October, sometimes not, but definitely not preceded by this kind of extreme heat. No sign of rain or hope in sight …

I’ve been watering my very thirsty garden daily and watching the jacarandas from my study in the near distance bloom, colours and shadings different at changing times of the day. There’ve been some breezes in the last few days – I took this 5 sec video from my garden on Tuesday.

My gardener and I visited the nursery on Wednesday – lovely to choose some plantings. Rain looked promising mid afternoon but no luck. The wind was high, the clouds looked promising.

 I thought of Queen Modjadji VI, the Rain Queen. She comes from a matrilineal dynasty from as far back as the 1400’s. It is a tale of intrigue and incest in the royal family, mysticism, strife and ritual. She was a direct descendant of one of the royal houses of Momomatapa, which ruled over the Zimbabwean people in the 15th and 16th century. They fled Zimbabwe, their place of origin, and have been in here in Limpopo (South Africa) where unique cycads are to be found, for the last 2 centuries.

queen modadji

cycads

The Rain Dance is an annual ritual performed in the first week of October when the rainmaking charms, hitherto kept under strict lock and key, are brought out.

The people (of the Balobedu tribe) remove to a kraal and Makhubo the cow enters the kraal, praises are sung to it and it is fed beer.

They then remove to a special shrine adjacent, where the rainmaking charms are laid out. Skins are strategically placed, and the beer is poured over the charms. The Rain Queen calls on the ancestors for rain and the people praise the Queen. There’s a complicated beer making and drinking ritual, out come the drums, songs for unity are sung and people dance around the shrine.

The nation of the Balobedu (about 1 million) sing and dance for the rest of the day …

She died young in a nearby hospital at the age of 27, in 2005, from a sudden and mysterious illness – she’d ruled for only 2 years. There are all sorts of theories as to the real cause of her early death. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_Queen)

I’ve done my own version of a rain dance on the odd occasion in the privacy of my garden. Just a bit of jumping around for a minute, outside, imploring the rain to come. I did one this past Tuesday afternoon. I could smell the rain in the air, on the wind… At long, long last – rain on Wednesday night. What a blessing it is … the air is different, all a little brighter, and things are slightly cooler.

The clouds are building up as I write –

Tomorrow afternoon our Springboks play Wales at the Twickenham Stadium (London) – we’re in the quarter-final! It’s going to be one hang of a match (Rugby World Cup). I’m having some girlfriends for tea at 4.00 and the match starts at 5.00, when the beer comes out, and other …

And, while I think of it, imagining – I remember last week when SA played the US. How the US team sang their national anthem prior to the match! With such gusto and energy! It was a lovely experience to share in their pride while they were singing – they played well too. Gave us good competition ..

Have a wonderful week one and all –

Thanks Mike for uploading the video for me, long distance. http://www.mikescottanimation.com

with thanks to google images for photos and info

Equinox, Turkey, Yom Kippur, Lunar Eclipse & World Cup Rugby

Equinox, Turkey, Yom Kippur, Lunar Eclipse & World Cup Rugby

It’s the Equinox today. For us in South Africa and the southern hemisphere it is the point of turning out towards Spring and Summer; for those in the northern hemisphere it is the point of turning in towards Fall (here in S.A. we call it Autumn) and Winter. Such a special time of year – when the earth stands still for a brief moment before it tilts and turns on its axis – and for when we also note these changing seasons and what they portray on both visible and non-visible levels – there’s a shift, we sense it.

It was wonderful to return home last Wednesday from my adventures with Susan Schwartz in Turkey. My husband was welcoming – he did not play golf as he always does on a Wednesday afternoon! The garden is beautiful with buds and blossoms blooming, many in my absence. My orchids are a delight!

orchids september

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I had a fever on my return but with a good night’s sleep, I woke on Thursday feeling better. All is well on the home front, save for ongoing disturbing news here and abroad.

Turkey – how to say in a few brief words on a blog post. Vast, vibrant, verdant, colourful, thrumming, thriving, handsome, beautiful, magnificent, ancient, modern. We travelled southwest from Istanbul (pop. 12 million) then eastwards stopping many times en route and overnighting; and a 12 hour drive back to Istanbul from Ankara leaving at 7.00 a.m. on our last day. Many hours in the air-conditioned bus, travelling, travelling, beautiful countryside, interesting architecture in the towns, mosques everywhere, their gilded minarets pointing up towards the sky. Hot, 35 degrees most days or a little more. Walking among ancient ruins telling of time before – steps, many steps, climbing up and climbing down (Ephesus), amphitheatres (Pergamum), caves (Göreme-Cappadocia), Salt lakes (Pamukkale)  – places of ancient beauty –

stepsIzmir

ruinscaves

saltlakes

 Çan (pronounced John or Jan) our Turkish guide, a very tall, very lean and handsome man of around 33 or so, spoke English extremely well and was very knowledgeable and kind. Naheem our driver was a sweetie. The others in our group were interesting and lovely. A young couple from New Zealand, 4 Australians, 3 young Mexican women. Gabriella from Mexico was here in Johannesburg visiting Alexander Township on an exchange from the London School of Business when Mr. Mandela died nearly 2 years ago; she was so moved by the national outpouring of grief over our deep loss. We saw and experienced much on many levels. I am still digesting which will still take much time for me to process. I even took some videos on my Ipad when Susan and I took a boat ride on the Bosphorus on our last day! A first for me!

And Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow at sundown, the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. The Day of Atonement. At-One-Ment. Susan and I spoke a little of this while in Turkey. A few days into our travels was the beginning of the New Year – Rosh Hashana – with Yom Kippur still 10 days away. This day asks much of the person observing the 25 hours of Yom Kippur. It is a rigorous examination of one’s life over the previous year, confessing all one’s sins to G.d, repenting and asking forgiveness. It is a time of fasting as well, denying bodily comforts as a way of focusing on repentance. And prior to the covenant with G.d, making right with those to whom one has caused harm in any way and asking their forgiveness. It is a cleansing for those who repent and a joy to be cleansed.  A solemn time indeed. O that we all – of all stripes – do this! The shofar sounds at sundown the following day and a feast ensues! 

And a few days later, on the 28th September, the total eclipse of the full super-moon, ‘…also called a Blood Moon because it presents the 4th and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad: four straight total eclipses of the moon, spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart’. *

And the Rugby World Cup which began last Friday night at Twickenham, London. Our Springboks played Japan on Saturday night in Brighton and horror of horrors, we lost. South Africa is in the top 3 of the 20 countries taking part. We’ve won the World Cup (played every four years) twice in the past. But, Japan outplayed us. We were leading by a hair’s breadth in the last few minutes 32:29 but Japan scored a try in the last minute to win 34:32. It was a totally nerve wracking match and we’re all in shock at this completely unexpected result. The shock has been felt world-wide. One of the only times I feel patriotic and feel that buzz is when our boys in green and gold and the crowd in the cathedral of the rugby field (or soccer field) stand to sing our national anthem Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika which is sung in 5 (of our 11) official languages: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. I’m always reminded of 1995 when we took the World Cup on home ground – Mr Nelson Mandela was our newly elected President (1994) and to see him walk onto the field prior to the match, and after to raise the cup with Francois Pienaar the captain, were unforgettable moments. S’truth, unity … what a feeling … a birthing moment.madibapienaar

And, in a sense, I feel as if we’re in a birthing moment with change all about –

*from earthsky.org

 

Spring is Sprung

Happy Spring Day for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere!

orchids

Where did August go? I don’t know – do you?

The last several days have been sunny and hot, unseasonably so.  For some, it’s a ritual to have a swim on the first day of September even though it may be freezing cold; the ritual is performed as a way of greeting the official first day of Spring. Though I heard that from Thursday we’ll have a cold spell with temperatures halving, lasting a while.

There’s a lot of green on the trees and colour on the winter blooms but I’m glad that the jacaranda trees have shed their leaves and they look stark and bare as they should. They usually blossom in their full glory by mid October – they are truly an extraordinarily beautiful sight – I know I’ve posted pics before – probably last year October or November.

My purply-pink orchids on the patio have died down, already a while ago.The beautiful white ones are in full bloom! Photo at top. I’m so tempted to cut a few stems and bring them into our home – but they look so glorious where they are. The azaleas are blossoming (though two other azaleas in another part of the garden look as if they’re gasping their last breath); the clivias are also blooming.. The primulas in front of the azaleas are still looking very pretty and gay.

azaleas

I’ve added two photos I took recently when I was down in Natal to see my brother. My sister flew to Durban from Cape Town so we were all together for several days. Natal is always lush and green – these photos are from my cell phone outside his home. I plucked some branches and brought them home and put in a vase in the entrance where they looked so beautiful.

christopher's home3

christopher's home

The week finally arrived – i.e. this week, yesterday. It’s when I had to realise that this Friday I leave for Turkey. Am I organised? Am I calm? Half-organised in answer to first question. Answer to second one? I’m trying to be – though I am agitated at some real level. Perhaps I’m just being alert to the reality that while I’m busy making proper plans, something can come along and tip the cart. So, where I can prepare, this is what I’m doing. Tomorrow will be a busy day. Today has been seriously busy.  Am making lists of things still to be done – the list grows longer –  

Changing seasons, changing world. Soon, the equinox on the 21st September. The days and the nights will be of equal length a moment before they begin their tilt. The spring gardens here will be in full bloom. There are already early signs of it – jasmine – wafting her delicious scent. And the yesterday, today and tomorrow – strong, delicious, delightful fragrance –

I leave on Friday night, return Johannesburg 16th Sept. Susan Schwartz from Phoenix Az. and I will meet Saturday morning in Istanbul. We’re on a tour – a tour being a first for the both of us. I still have to check quite where we are touring … and to print out the much edited book that we’ve collaborated on over the months and the airwaves: ‘Aging & Becoming’. It’s about 115 pages, we may do more deleting, more adding and amending.

This blog post is my first in many weeks – and it is really just to keep in touch. We’re very aware not only of the changing seasons but also of the worrying times around the world. Fires, droughts, economic concerns, terrorism, the plight of the migrants escaping from war torn countries – the list is endless. 

Keep safe, and be well.

Five Photos Five Days challenge Day 5

Five Photos Five Days Challenge – last day

Gulara at http://gulara vincent.com nominated me some days ago to take part in this challenge. Her recent posts in this challenge have shown her appreciation for Nature which reminds her of the beauty in the world.

To conclude my part in it, I’m showing buds.

Anais Nin: And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom –

My gardener Wayne is here today pruning the roses inter alia. I took this photo this morning of the last remaining bud. It’s in a vase now on my desk with the last of the white roses.

rosebud

My American friends were visiting some while back and gave us an air orchid which hangs on a branch of a tree up against the wall. When they visited several months after that, I was so pleased that it bloomed almost in anticipation of them arriving! I watch over it but it hasn’t bloomed in a while. But, it is showing two buds!
bud air orchid

Below is a picture of the air orchid

air orchid

 The orchid plant below was given many years ago – maybe 15 years ago – to my husband as a gift from a patient for whom he provides a pro deo service. It always bloomed prolifically and was truly a thing of beauty. We brought this large pot from our old home two years ago to the townhouse. Last year it didn’t flower, and I was concerned. Now I see 3 huge buds emerging and I am excited.

orchidSo, even though we’re in the depths of winter here in South Africa, and much looks tired and worn in my garden, there are signs of abundant life and a reminder to me that there are times that life must lie fallow and that the seeds will germinate and that this is how it is also in our own lives – cycles, wheels turning, ever changing, lying low for however long, yet ever seeking expression when the time is right –

I’ll be lying low for a while – I have a lot of work to do on the book that Susan Schwartz and I are collaborating on. Thank you for accompanying me on this 5 Day 5 photo challenge! I’ve enjoyed it very much!

I’m  nominating Samantha Mozart http://thescheherazadechronicles.org/in Delaware to continue (when she can). 

Rules for 5 photos, 5 days challenge:-

1) post a photo for each consecutive day

2) attach a story to the photo. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a paragraph – all entirely up to you!

3) nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the nomination. This is fun, not a command performance!

5 Photos 5 Day Challenge: day 4

Day 4 of 5 Day 5 photo challenge

Gulara of http://gularavincent.com nominated me some days back to take part in the 5 day 5 photo challenge.  Her recent posts in this challenge have shown her appreciation for Nature which remind her of the beauty in the world.

Jüte, my younger son’s new fiancè, always brings us a gift when she comes up to Johannesburg with Davey, home baked cookies, dates balls covered in coconut, chocolate. When she and Davey were here in April, this orchid was delivered to my home the day after they left via courier.

Jute's orchidI’m amazed that it is still blooming; it’s shed a few petals but is still looking beautiful after several months. It’s kept indoors (although I put it outside for a moment to take the photo) and is always a reminder to me of her beauty and kindness.

outdoor orchidThis beautiful orchid above is in a pot outdoors on the patio. It is just starting to bud. I have several pots of beautiful orchids outside and it amazes me that they bloom so gloriously in winter. The purply ones below are starting to fade a little but in its place are these gorgeous white ones. There are a few pots with so many buds. I can’t wait.orchids June 2015These are the purply/pinky ones.

There is another beautiful orchid I have indoors but when I put the photo up it won’t go the right way up, no matter what I do. Somehow I’ve managed not only to publish an unfinished post, I’ve also lost my colour tag. What I HAVE managed to do, is to put the umlaut onto Jüte, and the ‘ onto fiancè … someone on FB said just hold the letter down! Thank you Ashen and Jacqui and Marian for your suggestions in my recent post!

I’m nominating Genevive of http://livealifeofgratitude.blogspot.in to continue the challenge and tomorrow I’ll be nominating Samantha Mozart on my last day.

Rules: for 5 photos, 5 days challenge

1) post a photo each day for 5 consecutive days

2) attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a paragraph – all entirely up to you!

3) nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation! This is fun, not a command performance!

Day 3 of Five Photos Five Stories challenge

Day 3 of 5 Photos Five StoriesDavey and JuteDavid Scott & Jute Dorfling

This is the photo Davey sent me on what’s app last week when they were in Namibia with the caption ‘Jute & I are engaged!’ It must be a selfie! At first I thought Jute was drinking a cup of tea (because I’ve seen her in her pyjamas before) and was clueless as to what Davey was holding. But when I enlarged it I saw that Davey was holding a small bottle of local sparkling wine and that the tea cup was holding contents of the celebratory wine! And I can view the ring!

We are truly happy and so is Jute’s family. They’ve had a long relationship and met when they were both waitering at The Surf Cafe in Plettenberg Bay 3 1/2 years ago. They are a delight to observe in their interactions with each other. Kind, caring, loving, respectful, amusing –
davey jute

This one was taken in our garden in April this year. They were up from Cape Town to attend a wedding of a school friend of Davey’s (David wearing his father’s wedding jacket). Tomorrow I’ll post a photograph of an orchid Jute gave me in April which is still looking lovely. (Jute’s name has two dots above the ‘u’ but I’m clueless as to how to put them up/on).

Gulara of http://gularavincent.com (whose posts I always enjoy) nominated me for this challenge. She’s been posting beautiful photos of Nature just recently – for the next few days I’ll be doing the same.

Guilie at “Quiet Laughter’ in Curacao http://guilie-castillo-oriard.blogspot.com may I nominate you to pick up this 5 day 5 Photo 5 Story challenge?

Rules below:

1) post a photo each day for 5 consecutive days

2) attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non fiction, poetry, a paragraph – all entirely up to you!

3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation! This is fun, not a command performance!

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