Ammolite and Artistic Cats

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I quite like snails. Not so keen on their homeless cousins, slugs – my mother’s front lawn sometimes looks like the aftermath of a music festival after a damp evening – but snails I find amusing, cheerful and determined. I’ve been reading the adventures of Elliot on Sue’s blog over at Space, Time and Raspberries… please go and have a look.

Strictly speaking, Ammonites look more like a squid has borrowed a snail shell, but they all originate from the same major family of molluscs.

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Now. Ammolite – not to be confused with Ammonite – is the result of an ammonite becoming opalised. Opals are the wonderful crystals that glow like tiny pieces of captured Universe magic, and they are formed from a combination of water and silicon dioxide.

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Water will naturally find its own level as it travels through the Earth and as it passes through sandstone deposits it picks up silica. The silica-rich water then bleeds into natural gaps and fissures in the ground, finding spaces left by decomposing fossils and replacing the organic matter with opal solution. Over time, this hardens, and we are left with a beautiful crystal, vivid and vibrant, distilled from the very essence of Mother Earth… a crystal snail… squid… that in the right light has beautiful flashes of intense colour.

I have Ammonite fossils, mostly from Whitby – another little piece of information being that they used to be called “snakestones”. They were thought to be actual snakes that had been turned into stone by St.Hilda and were sold as souvenirs, sometimes with little snake heads carved into them.

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Ammonites have held a lasting fascination for me, ever since I was a little girl, so consequently I was aware of what Ammolite is, but I’d never seen it before. Till last Friday. Our city is sometime visited by wonderful markets from Europe, with stalls selling handmade clothes, amber, wood… and crystals.

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I’d actually seen this Ammolite on Wednesday… I stood at the stall and poked around the crystals, exchanging suspicious looks with the owner… I walked away. I thought about this Ammolite for the next two days. I read Sue’s Adventures of Elliot the Snail… I was tidying my bead collection and found these beads…

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I went back and bought the Ammolite. I have had to read up on its metaphysical properties as it’s a new one for me, but it is said that the spiral shape represents the soul’s path in this Life, its full spiritual journey; and, as such, can be used in healing past life traumas.

The glowing colours each have their own significance – Feng Shui masters call Ammolite the Seven Colour Prosperity Stone, and claim it brings health, wealth and vitality to you, your home and business. (Red symbolises growth and energy.) The spiral shape contains and transforms negative energy into a positive flowing spiral, moving energy freely through the chakras to cleanse, align and heal. The chambered shell represents structure and clarity, stimulating survival instincts. Snails do, traditionally, symbolise well-being and longevity – hence the recent craze for snail oil as the new anti-ageing cream…

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But I am drawn to the wonderful colours, a little example of the more extreme colours available from Mother Earth’s paint palette…

Ah yes. My cats are all very fond of the various branches of the Arts… their lithe and graceful bodies lend themselves naturally to all forms of Dance, whether it be Modern, Interpretive or Ballet… watching my cats interact with each other and the world around them is fully as entertaining as any television programme…

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But…but…WHERE’S ALL THE FOOD??” (cue dramatic “dunh-dunh DERRR!!”)

Did Tooty eat it?” (accusing looks all round)

Where’s our mother with supplies?” (cue lost soulful music..)

SHE’S HERE NOW!! Panic over!” (cue suitably comedic music to announce my entrance…)

Charlie is very fond of expressive Arts… my old headmistress sent me this wonderful book, called “Why Cats Paint” and in it there is a selection of photos of clawed furniture. Art installations. I used this book to back up my point when my partner discovered Charlie’s artistic self-expression all over the back of the sofa after a recent trip to the optician to get his prescription updated…

Suffice it to say, all animals are examples of Mother Nature’s Art and creativity.

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” – Leonardo da Vinci

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Country Ways and Castles…

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I am an advocate of the old ways, the old knowledge, lost things and forgotten truths… our eyes do not always see what was there and what still is, but hidden from the general 21st century scrutiny.

Consider our island, (the U.K.)… at one point in our past, the vast majority of this country was covered by ancient woodlands, home to wolf, wildcat and boar. Alongside these animals, so it is said, nature spirits lived… we could call them fairies, the Fey Folk, the Little People… They could be possibly be off shoots of our wilder ancestors… but as man grew and modernised so our ancient connections retreated and receded into the depths of our countryside where they remain undisturbed.

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Part of me longs for these old times, where Man lived closer to Mother Earth, in tune with her rhythms; yet as early as the Romans and their persecution of the Druids, as early as 1066 with William the Bastard, our land and the wild ways were chained and bound, held down by fortresses of stone.

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Gone were the wooden Motte and Bailey Anglo-Saxon constructions, longer still the Romans, although some of their roads remain as does a little of their DNA. Interestingly, I think I read somewhere that something like 0.5% of our current population carries Roman DNA from those long ago times.

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My mother’s family came over with the Normans… this was part of our family lore for a long time, until my wonderful uncle, when he retired, spent time and money to validate this claim… and yes, a distant ancestor did indeed travel with William from Normandy to invade England.

The Domesday Book is a fascinating piece of this country’s past, a thorough documentation and perhaps a warning of what was to come as everything was written down and described within an inch of its being.

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To complete his conquest, William threw a ring of stone castles around our edges to contain and dominate. And although as man encroached the wild ways retreated, I cannot help but appreciate these stones who have their own story to tell and their own place in history.

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Nottingham Castle is my local… although it resembles rather more the fortified manor house it became round about the 1700’s you can still see ancient parts that hold secrets, and who knows, maybe Robin Hood could have walked this way.

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There are still bullet holes visible from the English Civil War in this building, an unhappy time for the country as brother fought brother. Earlier, Good King Richard is said to have spent the night here on his way to Bosworth; and although there are echoes and imprints, Richard is long gone, his body in an alien place, his DNA an exhibit, an experiment, a project in the county of his death.

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Newark… the castle is now a romantic and picturesque ruin, another king another night… More echoes of the past from a castle that was once the centre of a thriving community.

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Some remain, some are preserved and restored but others crumble and die, the castles and great houses dying and long past preserving as the 21st century edges them away, modernity sweeping away past in progress supposedly.

And so I find myself responsible for my own destruction of the past… it was my mother’s side of the family who came over with the Normans. A DNA chain that has remained unbroken for ten centuries, a mother bloodline that is passed from mother to daughter only – mitochondrial DNA.

I have no daughters, so in a way I am responsible for the death of a family that’s been here since 1066. And although I feel a little guilty, sometimes these things just have to come to an end. The 20th century with its Industrial Revolution and all the rest of it tried to finish the job of those who went before and eradicate the wild ways, to control and landscape garden… but now.

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But now, it is time to walk hand-in-hand with the 21st century; a new age of love, of understanding, of kindness, of partnership between Man and Mother, Mother Earth.

Quick – look to your past and you might see a Fae, one of the Sídhe, slipping away in the turn of a leaf…

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Halite and Hydrated Cats

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Halite is a wonderfully different crystal with an interesting history behind it. It is part of the Salt family of crystals, and salt traditionally has a lot of symbolism attached to it, as well as many practical uses.

Salt can be offered to show hospitality – sitting above or below the salt in mediaeval times was an indication of social standing. It can be used as a symbol of purity and has its place in the armoury of protection against dark outside influences.

Salt was used to preserve and dry meat or fish, was a valuable trading commodity and can obviously just be sprinkled to enhance flavour…

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As a crystal, Halite draws on all of these family qualities. It will draw out any spiritual impurities and restore inner balance while helping you to assume a more objective perspective. Halite can open your eyes to the existence and guidance of a higher self, and will draw upon its historic background of protection to guard against any negative outside influences or dark energy attachments.

salty-4My son’s Pink Himalayan Rock Salt lamp…

Halite can help in the banishment of negative thoughts, soothing anxiety and encouraging emotional well-being. It can be used in acupuncture and acupressure to ground and magnify the healing properties of other crystals. As salt, it is used in water and sugar solutions to restore the balance of electrolytes in the body. ( Just a quick mention… Halite is NOT a crystal to cleanse under running water as it will do as salt does and just dissolve … leave it in moonlight or in a bowl or a pouch with another cleansing crystal such as Carnelian.)

Mankind has long known about the benefits and uses of all forms of salt; Halite is equally as useful for the spiritual body… soul seasoning, if you will.

Water and Salt are important elements in most forms of life and obviously any animal needs a constant supply of fresh water – this is number one in the list of Animal Freedoms : “FREEDOM FROM HUNGER AND THIRST – by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigour.”

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My mother’s dog, Erin, has a 2 gallon bucket of water to drink from – I’ve had many an impromptu wash from this as I have changed it for her… My girls have a water fountain, two bowls of fresh water, humans ready and willing to turn the tap on so they can sit in the sink and have a quick drink… and yet they will still quite happily drink out of a muddy puddle or even the pond…

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My cats have all, at some point, spent hours in the bath-not full of water obviously – fascinated by the drips from the tap. I have spent time in the bath or shower being closely observed by the cats and, upon occasion, followed, much to my alarm and the cat’s surprise…

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Suffice it to say, Water, like Halite, which also balances and purifies, is a vital element to the life and health of every living creature.

Skulls

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Think of a skull and what do you see in your mind’s eye…? The dry skulls of longhorn cattle, abandoned and forlorn, lying in a desert…the years’ old skulls of dinosaurs, hanging and monstrous…the greasy skull of a zombie, threads of rotting flesh and slimy hair still clinging to it…

I visited an ossuary once, and was overwhelmed by the neat stacks of dried and powdery human skulls, piled carefully in alcoves. And everyone at some point in their life will have seen the heaps of skulls, carelessly tossed aside, the markers of one or another despot…

Powerful symbols that imprint on your memory and it is precisely due to these negative connotations that one remembers them… In Art, skulls are sometimes referred to as deaths heads and used to symbolise the impermanence of humanity. Commonly believed to be the seat of the soul, the material vessel of the spirit, the skull was often used by alchemists as a container for use in transformation processes. It is precisely because the skull was held as the seat of intellect, the soul, the essence of being, that the practice of “Anthropophagy” evolved.

IMG_6924 (2).JPGLeft: Carnelian, promotes creativity, positivity and confidence. Right: Stromatolite, fossilised microorganisms, helps you to understand life’s lessons and ‘go with the flow’

There’s a word to conjure with… Anything with “anthro” in it is usually to do with humans, ‘phagy’, eating… so yes. Cannibalism. It was a common practice within some ancient tribes who believed that they would absorb the strength and intelligence of their enemy by consuming their brain and flesh; and sometimes, the leader or shaman would be sacrificed and eaten for that same reason, as well as being an offering to the gods. Therefore skulls are a potent symbol of strength, intelligence – and death.

IMG_6918 (2).JPGFront row: Lepidolite, Preseli Bluestone and Carnelian. Back row: Stromatolite and Lapis Lazuli

My introduction to crystal skulls was through my son’s lovely crystal lady Lizian, who encouraged me not to dismiss them out of hand as gory piratical symbols with a bloodstained history… Instead, regard them as a metaphor for all the positive aspects of humanity, light and love and intelligence. A vessel yes, but for a higher purpose, as this representation does not relate to physical death; rather, it is a key to access the information retained by the collective human consciousness. It is said that by working with the particular vibration of crystal skulls mankind can expand its own consciousness whilst adding to the general pool of human knowledge. The skull is a tangible reminder of this and when coupled with the properties of the crystal from which it is carved, it is then a beneficial and potentially powerful tool.

IMG_6904 (2).JPGLeft to right: Dalmationite, Fluorite, Mookaite, then artistically out of focus unidentifiable skulls

So then… crystal skulls are a reminder of our own humanity. Not in the sense of physical death, but a bit like tying a knot in a handkerchief…We only use a small proportion of our total brain capacity, the skulls are a way of encouraging us to use more, expand our horizons and learn more, utilising them as a way of accessing knowledge left to us from previous civilisations and becoming part of a human “whole” again.

Thank you to In The Autumn Of My Life for the idea for this post, and thank you to Lizian, both for the beautiful examples which my son photographed, and letting me pick her brains for information… if you pardon the pun…!

IMG_7157 (4).JPGPreseli Bluestone… this is the same crystal that Stonehenge is made of, a magical crystal with an ancient vibration… 

All photos were taken by my son!

 

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo?

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One of the questions I was asked during my responses to the Sunshine Blogger Award was: “Do you have any tattoos?”… and that set me to thinking… yes, I do. One. And it’s rubbish. I wish I’d never got it. It’s right on my shoulder, so it limits my choice of tops and it’s not even particularly well drawn. I got it when I went with a group of friends to Blackpool. Instead of a “Kiss Me Quick” hat or a stick of rock, we all decided, as you do, after a few light, alcoholic beverages to go and have tattoos done. It bloody hurt, (isn’t it funny the false bravery a little alcohol can instil…) but I do remember being quite fascinated by the scab as it came off, in a perfect facsimile of the actual tattoo.

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I’ve been watching a programme called ‘Tattoo Fixers’, where the tattoo artists are very skilled and sympathetic, and cover up the small, hideous tattoos of their customers with larger, more beautiful designs, varying in size and depending on the bravery of the tattoo-ee. The funniest one was where a man had a male chicken tattooed on his – ahem – gentleman sausage. I admired his stoicism, as not a tear left his eye, although he was rather sweaty by the end of the process… A cover design would not be an option for me… As well as being needle phobic, I am also an enormous yellow coward. Even the thought of laser removal frightens me, leaving what looks like, to me, a third degree burn.

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Tattoos have their uses though. Originally, I think, they were used to denote which tribe you came from, which position you held and that sort of thing. It’s quite an ancient practice, dating back to the Iron Age as various tattooed mummies have been found and carbon dated to around that period. I read somewhere that it was Captain James Cook who brought the popularity of tattoos back in the 1700’s as he explored the South Pacific. They went through a phase of being associated with sailors, and therefore somewhat vulgar, but the class distaste for them eventually vanished as people had bigger things to worry about, like World War II.

Not a great chapter in the history of the tattoo. The Nazis used them to number and label the people in concentration camps; for example, a triangle showed you were Jewish, there was a serial number to show which camp you were incarcerated in and a letter ‘Z’ marked you as a Gypsy. Everybody at some point in their lives has come across this information on the television, or in a book, or in a history lesson. I went to Israel when I was younger with my mother, (it’s an amazing country, a real ‘historical’ vibe there) and we visited Yad Vashem. This is a museum that commemorates the sufferings of the Holocaust, and I remember very clearly seeing the piles of old shoes, mattresses stuffed with human hair, lampshades made from tattooed human skin.

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History became life, a person, to me, shortly afterwards. My mother and I were in a supermarket in Tel Aviv, when an older lady behind me began talking to me. My mother apologised and explained we were English. The lady laughed and said:

But your little girl, she is so blonde, I thought she was Polish!”

A sweet and gentle lady, she and my mother chatted and as we said goodbye, her sleeve fell back and I saw her tattoo.

Nowadays tattoos are used as a somewhat more positive form of self-expression, although there is some debate about whether they are in fact a reflection of body issues… I was very taken with one girl’s tattoos, she had a trail of little pawprints across her arm – I noticed as she packed my shopping for me. Indeed, there are some wonderful designs reflecting both the skill of the artists and the determination of the customer…

So there you are. A little bit about one of the less extreme forms of body modification. As for mine – have you guessed what it is yet?! 

IMG_4783 (2)“Don’t even GO there…”