Catherine Pawson is a writer, mother, lover, poet and dancer. Living in Devon, listening to ancestors and weaving words.
Sometimes, constellations land into our veins, illuminating their branching networks with ancient starfire. Stop long enough for a ray of golden light to slant through trees and trick you out of your skin. Stay long enough for this love to catch you up. When it finally does, turn your face to beauty and surrender to your own weeping.
When that happens, the human skin slides off as a luminescence lights up cascades of scales, fur, claws, beating wings, soaring flight, slithering belly. All that’s needed is a slant of sunlight through trees, a subtle change in the trickling of stream-flow, to trick a human out of her familiarity, to land even momentarily into an entirely different realm.
When that happens, nothing is ever the same again.
Starfire © Catherine Pawson
As morning breaks
and you arrive, a guest,
into the new day,
offer a gift at her threshold.
Catch the night-bright dreaming
that still flits behind your vision.
Anchor it softly with breath
into the waking day.
Irrigate your thirsting soul,
pouring song into the waters,
whether of river or rain
Let robin dawn song pierce your heart,
cleaving a clear path once more
As the soft amber of sunrise
cloaks the swaying tree tops
bare your head to the blessing of rain.
Morning Prayer © Catherine Pawson
There are still some days so rushed and frantic that I don’t get outside for a walk. By the end of those days I am impoverished. My well runs dry, and something inside me feels shrivelled. My moods veer wildly, untethered and tetchy.
I’ve learnt that to create time for that walk is no indulgent whim. It’s essential medicine. My soul flowers in myriad conversations. Birds, breezes, rivers, conkers whisper to me. This is as ordinary as my morning cuppa. This is our birthright, to daily hold this sacred exchange with nature all around us. It’s a mutual sharing of stories, of sensual impressions.
On the days when I walk, my body feasts on images, feelings, nuances. In the evening, when I relax into the arms of my beloved, he becomes the oak root holding me. When I drink my favourite herbal brew, I feel the rush of the river revitalising me. When I breathe deeply, the scent of the forest floor fills my nose again, though I may be standing in the kitchen late at night.
On the days when I make that simple pilgrimage, I am anchored, deeply held. An abiding sense of peace within nourishes me through the many small storms of daily life.
Nature Nourishment © Catherine Pawson 2018
River, you are
banks barely holding you.
Grey-blue and white, a fury unfolding
A headlong tumble to a faraway sea.
River, you are
lazily wandering, slow downstream.
Silken flow against summer skin
A gift of refreshment as we jump in.
River, you are
Home to so many,
Teeming abundance of silver and green.
I call you kin, I sing to your waters
Life-giver, ever-changing, I give you my thanks.
River You Are © Catherine Pawson 2018
It is not only the double helix spiral of our genes that informs our particular shape, the creation that is you and me. That bright spiral has a dark twin, dwelling in the spaces and the shadows within the serpentine twist. This is the space into which creation flows like a mighty river, stellar tides inrushing. These two, the form and the space, are ever dancing, ever whirling together.
Tend the empty spaces within and all around you for they are precious and holy. Demarcate their boundaries with your fierceness, for it will take all you have while the world around you clamours for your productivity, your visibility, the marks of your belonging. While the world around you lurches in its addiction to brightness, to fire, to the certainty only of form, to simply give yourself over to emptiness is an act of rebellion and a medicine for these times.
Intentionally un-belong. Allow a delicious falling into the in-between spaces. Practise invisibility, don it like a costume and allow it to release you into a different shape. Knowing the deep belonging of your being here, on this planet at this time, what is it that calls you in that wide dark space, in the freedom of a chosen exile for a while?
Tend the Empty Spaces © Catherine Pawson 2017
My bones long for rock, as my blood responds to the whispering sea or the pulsating flow of the river. Deep in my marrow curve my ancestral stories, seeking echo in the ancient rocks that shape my sweet land of hill and mountain. Those ancient bone stories are a sonar homing call which booms way below the frequency of daily life, benevolently tethering me when the busyness of that life would unseat me.
From time to time I drop and hear the response call, the call from chalk or granite that confirms a belonging beyond my comprehension, a fitting into the long arc of time and place. When I turn to snuggle into rock’s response, every disparate dissonance of my skeleton is sung whole by a mother’s lullaby, the first lullaby, reaching my ears in those moments to remind me whose daughter I eternally am.
Bone Song © Catherine Pawson 2017
Today a tumult of autumnal leaves tumbled, hundreds of them lying golden as bright spilt coins on the dark rain-soaked lane I walk along. Each year, this leaf-tumble day arrives, a day when nature seems to me to decisively shift her mood from summer to autumn, and I wonder at the timing of it. As I wonder, I find myself tracking the ancestral lines of those golden leaves in the lane. From their windblown backs I drift upward, backward from earth to twig. From twig tip inward, my senses seeking sap lines running towards ancient heartwood. I hear songs of the mother tree, her myriad of stories heard and whispered to the winds through the centuries, a hypnotic rising and falling of lives and loves and seasons ever turning.
A glimpse, an acorn lying glossy in a wood long ago, in an autumn long past. Enfolded within its tiny package lie kaleidoscopic unfurlings of grace and might and beauty. Lost in this acorn’s nut-brown dreaming I stumble upon this very moment, this moment of my standing and wondering. Behind this moment, an infinity of seasonal doorways, each opening on to another, of long-ago autumns, of feathery frosts and wild rains birthing ancient springtimes, the changing of each circling season impeccably wrapped in an earlier turning. This circular songline is both unfathomable to my quicktime mind, grasping for the definition of endings and beginnings, and deeply kindred to my own beating heart.
Autumnal Tumbling © Catherine Pawson
It is time, friends, to take to the road
To sing again to old bones,
To seek out the old places,
And find each other once more.
It is the moment, sisters,
And we are the ones,
We are all chosen.
The ancestors are holding the door.
We know each other, women,
Not by clothes, nor the trinkets we wear,
But by our naked souls
And the way they glimmer in the dark.
Take my hands, brothers,
And drop the old story
To make space for the ancient songs,
To know what our ancestors knew.
It is time, family, to root ourselves deep,
To wind love around rocks,
To plant hands in the earth,
To make beauty with our bodies.
It is time, It is now.
It Is Time © Catherine Pawson 2016
This, she understood now, was a still point. In the days before, she had chafed against the bars of an unseen cage, pushing forward, eager to know the next unfolding, and now it dawned on her that far from being stuck, she was being freed. Being freed.
Little by little as she moved more mindfully in that narrowed place, knots inside her unravelled and new spaces glimmered around her. The future fell away from her mind’s fevered grasp and she no longer cared.
She came at last to recognise the value of stillness, of the beauty of simple routine and the repeating rhythm of her breath. She ceased to wait, and immersed herself in the infinite velvety depth of the moment that is now.
Still Point © Catherine Pawson 2016