I stuck this decal on my back bumper of my car some time ago. It’s small – about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. It’s struck me before that using dots and circles (mandalas) is reminiscent of Australian aboriginal paintings. This one is stylised, yet primitive. I love the beauty of the serpent. I part sketched it yesterday in a note book and I think I will attempt a painting of it. Acrylic? Water colours? Maybe using different colours – green and yellow dots maybe with some red and white and definitely blue. I recently read Lucinda Riley’s ‘The Pearl Sister’ which is mostly set in Australia and the story brings in aboriginal art and CeCe’s search for her ancestry in Australia. So there’s some dovetailing for me – I’ve been wondering what to paint. This is a nudge for me.
And then yesterday – because I’ve been puzzled by a dream from several nights ago, I looked up ‘Cat’ in The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Taschen. It is a precious book. What I’ve excerpted below is on page 300, titled Cat.
‘… In the evening, all the cats who had participated in the rat-catching had a grand session at (the Swordsman’s) house, and respectfully asked the great Cat to take the seat of honor. They made profound bows before her and said: “We all wish you to divulge your secrets for our benefit.” The grand old cat answered: “Teaching is not difficult, listening is not difficult, but what is truly difficult is to become conscious of what you have in yourself and be able to use it as your own….’ The Swordsman and the Cat, from a seventeenth-century master’s book on swordplay.
Now this doesn’t have any direct reference to my puzzling dream in which blue and white cats were rushing through I think my townhouse, but the words are rich. They also remind me of the words of Thomas in the Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
I’ve sort of been stuck in this for a while – feeling uncreative, enervated, flat, inertia descending on me like a mushroom cloud – sadness and shock at deaths of people I know during the month of January –
We’ve been in Plettenberg Bay for several weeks already and will be heading to our Johannesburg home this coming week for the rest of the month of February. I won’t say that I’ve ‘failed’ at the several tasks I set myself while here but there is much that I had planned on doing and did not, like walking every day, yoga stretches every day, more swimming in the sea, more exploring, more writing, less eating like a demon possessed –
Am I beating myself up on it? No, not really – a bit – but not much. I’ve certainly done more housework than I’ve ever done in my life. Our Plett home is a large home. There’s no Jane from our townhouse in Johannesburg to do the washing and ironing and keeping things tidy. There’s me and Neil who says he’s never worked so hard and that he didn’t realise what a lot of work is entailed in the maintenance of a home. But, I’ve enjoyed this work, which feels like honest labour to me. (No ironing on my side – things just dry on the washing line.) I employ Fadzi a young Zimbabwean woman once a week who works her magic. She creates and moves things round rather imaginatively from week to week.We’ve done much to make our home lovelier and more comfortable. I’m looking forward to the time when I’ll create a beautiful garden with its difficult soil. I hope to bring back my lovely potted orchids from Johannesburg to Plett. I’ll go indigenous as much as possible. I’ve already done some planting. We had wonderful much needed rains yesterday followed by this lovely rainbow captured from my bedroom balcony.
Elections are due to take place in South Africa in about April. Already the electioneering begins. Our robust justice system is in process of exposing many members of the the governing party the ANC and businesses involved in breath taking corruption. What’s been happening in Zimbabwe on our borders is beyond appalling. Mnangagwa, its president was recently in Russia begging for loans and did not get to Davos to beg for more but returned to Zimbabwe, for fear perhaps of a coup occurring in his absence. News coming out of Zimbabwe is scarce, as there is a shut down. There are calls for international sanctions against Zimbabwe.
World-wide things are pretty alarming – I won’t itemise it all. But people are rising and saying No, not in my name, individually and collectively. Something is in the air. But I think of the wind that can blow so fiercely here at times here in Plett for a day or so and then all of a sudden it stops, as if it’s run out of breath.
In all of this I think of white privilege, my white privilege, there by the skin of my teeth or by the colour of my skin. I’ve written about this before and I believe that we’ve projected on to the ‘other’ our own unacknowledged darkness within our own selves. How much easier it is to put it on to others. We fear doing the hard work necessary to look within our own selves, and acknowledge the darkness that resides in the shadows, waiting patiently to be recognised so that healing can begin – There is gold in the shadows – when we own it and bring it out and withdraw our projection onto the other, we develop empathy for others and ourselves and thereby embark on beginning steps towards healing – for all of us.
I was up early this morning and took this photo of the sunrise. The gold bowl surrounding the white light arising from the darkness –
Thank you for reading! May the Force be with you –