Saturday, March 28, 2015

It rains HEARTS in Soudat & rains in HEARTS in Paris - Adieu Pierre

This entry will pour down like rain and meander like a river...

Soudat, France - March 2015

A couple of weeks ago I motored to Soudat, a tiny commune in the Dordogne, approx. 30 minutes away, to do some tarot readings. Arrived a bit early with "le temps de ne rien faire" (time to do nothing) so I wandered around the hamlet in the rain taking photographs.  The place was festooned with metal hearts on barns, sculptural hearts; painted hearts on the sides of buildings, and more hearts on the walls of the school.  Asked a local I bumped into, "what's with all the hearts?"  He said that they'd had a festival of "Hearts" a few years ago and these were what remained.  Enchanting.

Cherub, Soudat - March 2015

In Paris, the rain is harder to bear, not romantic, just grey, extra wet & unyielding.  I snapped a fragment of Paul Verlaine's poem on a wall somewhere in the 20th arr.  "There is weeping in my heart like the rain falling on the city." Somebody named "Marty", must have been feeling triste when he scribbled Verlaine's poem on the wall, or maybe he lost his umbrella.  I know how sad that made me when I lost mine and had to walk 20 city blocks to Enrique's Pantheatre in the pouring rain.  

from Romances Sans Paroles - 1874

Verlaine was a study;  a life careening back and forth between naive innocence and criminality.  In his last years, the Prince of Poets, spent most of his royalties on a pair of middle-aged prostitutes.  He also frequented a gay man, Bibi-la-Purée, (sounds a little like a dog food, doesn't it?) who was famous for stealing umbrellas (hmmm, maybe that's what happened to mine!).  At the same time Verlaine was being celebrated as one of France's leading poets, he was snoring in slums, later spending 18 months in prison after shooting Rimbaud in the wrist. In and out of hospitals, suffering from cirrhosis, gastritis, rheumatism, diabetes, he continued to drink, and when Andre Gide visited him in Broussais hospital, Verlaine told him he was working on a "series of masturbatory poems".  No wonder his heart was weeping!

Paris in the rain

I prefer seeing Paris thru the window, like Chagall did

Paris Through the Window, Marc Chagall - 1913

How hungry we are for color when each day is grey.

March came in like a mewling lion. Three days in a row I pulled Lethe, Four of Water, from Ellen Lorenzi-Prince's Dark Goddess Tarot.  Lethe is the Greek Goddess of Forgetfulness and one of the five rivers of Hades, also known as Ameles Patamos, the river of unmindfulness.  In classical Greek, the word Lethe literally means, oblivion, forgetfulness, concealment.   I'd pulled this same card two years ago, in November, when we were entering the time of darkness, hibernation.  At the Equinox, we are moving into the light. I found it perplexing that more people commit suicide in the springtime.  There's a theory that the "rebirth" accentuates a feeling of hopelessness in contrast with all the new life bursting forth.

What was she trying to tell me?  I know how forgetful I am already.  I like Ellen's take on it:  "Let the memory of evil be washed away."  How serene we might be if we remembered our joys & let the sorrows go down the drain or be taken by the river. Ovid wrote that the Lethe river flowed through the cave of Hypnos, where its murmuring would induce drowsiness.  

Sarah Moon, Photographer

So far this March, I've had more demand for Tarot readings than January & February combined.  There is a pervasive feeling out there of being "dispossessed".  It's true that there are the perennial assaults of law suits, ill health, divorces, and leaking roofs etc., but as Maria Popova says in Brain Pickings: "There are also darker undercurrents of philosophical lamentation."

From David the Dreamer:  Extraordinary 1922 children's book illustrated by Freud's cross-dressing niece, Tom.  The kind of book that reads you as you read it.

David the Dreamer: His Book of Dreams, Tom Seidmann-Freud Illustrator

There is something very disorienting about being out of sight of land in a small boat, especially when you find out, with a sinking heart, that you don’t know which way to row to get home again. It is like getting lost anywhere else, only much worse; for there isn’t any Policeman or Kind Lady to help you, and, although a lot of people you don’t know all looking at you at once is bad enough, nobody at all looking at you makes you feel even more serious. Very-Little-David felt serious indeed… He told himself sensibly that it would do no good to cry, but he did cry. So there you are.  Ralph Bergengren

David the Dreamer

We feel out of control of some essential element of our lives.  Sometimes I think we corner ourselves with edicts and broomsticks of dictatorial beliefs.  I like this piece from Wendell Berry called "The Real Work": 

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey. 
The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."
Celebrate the befuddlement, the awkwardness, the hesitation and the blockages, how about that! 

Jacques Henri Lartigue

Or, go ahead and cry

Through the rain and the tears, there's always Tarot, the cards like a Lighthouse, guiding us in the dark, thru the storms, helping to avoid shipwrecks. The last few months, I read at an Abbaye, a horse ranch, at Festivals in Aubeterre, Vertaillac, Chalais, Brossac, Abjat-sur-Bandiat, in Paris, Bordeaux, on-line, on Skype, cell phone, on a train, the metro, in a cafe, in a converted donkey shed.  I read for French, Dutch, Germans, English, South Africans, Scottish, Irish, Americans, four little French boys (my favorites).  Oh, so many stories and aren't we Story People, a riff inspired by Antonio Machado, from my friend Jeanne:

Aren't we story people
picking up the story 
as we can,
picking up the ship too
and carrying it across
as we can
and being carried
& being 
cared for by story.

Jeanne Bennion (Ruffles)

"Todo  queda

Todo pasa,
Pero lo nuestra es pasar.
Pasar  haciendo caminos,
Caminos  sobre el mar." 

everything  remains,
everything  passes
but ours  is  to  pass,
to pass making/ creating/ shaping roads,
roads  across the sea  //  the ocean.     Antiono Machado

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne - converted donkey shed

Reading at Vertaillac for beautiful Trish from Studio Lavalette


My four adorable french boys, full of mischief and cupcakes. 

A special querent - Abjat-sur-Bandiat

Reading for Fiona - Abbaye de Boschaud, Villars

At the Abbaye (which Fiona declared a true bijou), we heard our first Cuckoo of the spring and the elusive Hoopoe Bird.  Here's a haiku by the famously belligerent, Japanese poet, Buson:

                                                          The mountain cuckoo?
                                                           I have no idea what's up
                                                           with that fuckin' bird.

Here's Fiona imitating the Hoopoe Bird; I wish I had a video clip:

Fiona - Abbaye de Boschaud


Communing with the Spirits

This blog is dedicated to Pierre Mittaud, our French Fairy Godparent who "entered another room" on March 11, 2015. The ghost of loss is upon us & it's "raining in our hearts."  Now you are a "beam of light," but then you always were.  Our favorite Pierre disant (saying) "Are You Crazy?!"

                                      We will never forget you, beloved Pierre. 

Pierre at home - Savigny-sous-Faye

Skyler, Mona, RA & K - Our last happy time together with you, Pierro

Sarah Moon

Note:  I am booked up for private readings till Mid-May - I will be reading again at Le Marquisat  annual Spring Arts & Crafts Fayre, Gardes le Pontaroux, April 26th, 10 - 5 p.m.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

REALITY UNADORNED & Morning Glow: Reflections

  I know that when I die, I will become a beam of light. 
                                                      - Albert Einstein

Marie Gervais - 106 years young - Le Pontillou

Childhood slips quickly away,
faces fade without names, only
a few lifetimes visible on the periphery.
You can hardly keep track of now,
it's illusory eternity.  - Morning Glow: Reflections
Stewart S. Warren

             Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.  Albert Einstein
My friend Madame S. - Le Pontillou

The hands that turned the first earth,
the hands that watered the sprouts,
the hands that raised themselves in praise,
the hands that knew what leavening was,
For an instant--this particular loaf.  
      Morning Glow: Reflections

                  We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
                                                                                                    Carl Sagan

Monsieur Gervais - Le Pontillou

I'd been thinking about light a lot, because there was so little of it.  It rained steadily most every day from November thru February.  One day in mid-February, there was a break in the clouds. 

Chateau de Charras

I pedaled to Le Pontillou, a farm outside of Doumerac, to visit Madame S.  She had invited me to tea weeks earlier, but the rain, the cold inside my chest, had kept me indoors. 

The River - Alessandro Sanna

The River, by the Italian artist, Alessandro Sanna, is a book about the seasons and the different kinds of experiences and stories that each season brings, and  about our connection to place, as well as the connections between geography, setting, and the stories we tell. The River is also about the flow of time, which flows like the river, and carries us.

The River - Alessandro Sanna

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy - Rumi

Poster on frigo

When I arrived, Madame was tending to her rabbits and chickens, and readying her garden patch. In her early 90's now, she manages the farm by herself.  In the kitchen she had orchids lined up and seed packets organized.  Minette, her cat, jumped right onto my lap.  Recently I learned that Minette is slang for "puss," young teenage girl - Attention! Can also mean "muff diving". As Minette purred away, I was sure Madame didn't have a clue about her lascivious background.


Madame's farmhouse is enormous, large enough to have housed the main family and all their extensions, brothers and sisters, belles-sœurs and beaux-frères, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.  I took a picture of the family tree, the Gervais line growing right out of the trunk, the branches of La Farges, Baruches, Tricards, Barrets, Brejouards, Reytoins, all flourishing right there on the wall. 

Gervais Family Tree

Then we went to a section of the house I'd never seen before, another dining room and salon. On the front of a large china cabinet was a blown up photo of Marie Gervais.  I thought it looked familiar; then I saw the affiche (poster) on the refrigerator from the gallery/Vernissage I'd attended in 2012 at La Tour Saint-Jean in Marthon. Her great-nephew, Franck Brudieux had paid hommage to Marie for her 106 years on the planet.

Franck Brudieux

 And the fruits of her life...

La Tour Saint-Jean Vernissage 2012
Alors pourquoi Marie?

Eight years old at the beginning of the First World War, over time, in spite of herself, she became a symbol, a representative of another world, that of early aviation, suicides linked to the shame of being a single mother, and a certain idea of the sacrifices of the peasantry.  From her window at Le Pontillou, she had seen men go to war, the effects of consolidation, rural exodus, and the arrival of the mechanization of agriculture, steadily knitting through it all.

All this time I'd been getting to know Madame S., I never connected her with Marie Gervais, who was her adored belle-soeur, sister-in-law. Madame showed me photo albums of the early days of the farm, the men bringing in the hay, les chasses, photos of the hunt.   I remembered the very day, three years ago, when I was biking along & stopped for a chat with Madame as she was taking her walk, and she told me her sister-in-law had died -  she was now all alone. But there was no self-pity or even great sadness, rather the forbearance that I've come to expect and appreciate in the French character. 

Her nephew, who became an "urban", a city dweller,  recalled his vacations at Le Pontillou, when Marie was still there, "part of the landscape, equal to herself, unperturbed." At the crossroads that are called "The Pearl," Marie was always waiting at the end of the white gravel road Franck traveled on his bicycle -- the same gravel road that I traveled to see Madame S.  Men, like "rocks," had shaped this small hamlet in their image and Franck had tried to "freeze-frame" twenty years of stability and happiness, as he watched their small world disappearing.

It's ironic, because much of the time, Kevin and I feel as though we are living in very rural France, where life is simple, old ways are honored, a "Reality Unadorned."  Another persistent illusion!

Eugene Atget

In Paris, in 1924, an American artist, Berenice Abbott, working as an assistant in Man Ray's studio, stumbled across some photographs by an elderly French neighbor of Man Ray's, Eugene Atget.

"The impact was immediate and tremendous. There was a sudden flash of recognition - the shock of reality unadorned. The subjects were not sensational, but nevertheless shocking in their very familiarity. The real world, seen with wonderment and surprise, was mirrored in each print. Whatever means Atget used to project the image did not intrude between subject and observer."

Berenice Abbott
Photography can only represent the present.  Once photographed the subject becomes part of the past.  Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott - Light thru Prism

At the tender age of 16, Einstein imagined chasing after a beam of light.

Wherever there is light one can photograph - Alfred Stieglitz

On Sunday, as we wandered thru Charras' annual Brocante, my psyche was flooded with the artifacts & remnants of an Old World, epitaphs of the rural exodus - some treasures and loads of junk. 

Brocante, Charras March, 2015

There is only one loss - only one.
I follow it down passageways,       
        past the necessity of shattered time.    
At each new iteration
and spontaneous release, 
a moment of freefall and doubt.

Villebois-Lavalette, Sunflowers in January 2015

I try to hold on to what 
was before - to no avail.   

Medieval Fortress, Villebois-Lavalette - January 2015

In burned out towns and tired minds,
in the circuit overload of commerce
and consuming, what appears fragile
is growing from rock and steel,
the new world pulsing, pushing
through the old. 
The first Crocuses, Doumerac - March 2015

Mushroom Hunting with Pierre-Jacques in Vouzan, Nov.

The light, sister asks,
how does it come there in the sky?
An array of solar collectors, he says,
billions of human beings
and all Nature of creatures,
Together we make it so.

Morning Glow:  Reflections
Stewart S. Warren

I was honored to write the foreword to Stewart S. Warren's latest poetry book, Morning Glow: Reflections. C'est un livre pour les âges.   It can be purchased on Amazon. 

And will the self-promotion never end??!  My Celtic Faerie Tales:  Now, Voyager, about an orphaned Border Collie searching for his true home, have gone live at:

Wales - Pembrokeshire Coast