Tag Archives: colchester

The fool who gambled his son

Treasure is not always gold.

Inattention and carelessness risks the loss of the essential.

Inattention and carelessness risks the loss of the essential.

I sit in the middle of Colchester, people watching.  A father and son stop, the father abandons the son on the sidewalk to enter a shop to gamble money on a horse race.  The son is about 3-years-old and calls for his father, he tries to push against the shop door, but it is too heavy.

In my imagination multiple dangers lurk, the boy could be abducted, the pushchair could roll into the road into the path of a car, or the child walks into the road with the same result.  I dislike intervention, so I watch and wait.  The father eventually leaves the shop, the father-and-son go on their way.  The unwise father is oblivious to the precious treasure he risked the loss of by leaving his son on the sidewalk alone as he pursued the fools delusion of treasure won on horse races.

Nature in the background

Nature provides a dramatic theatre if only people can see it.

I witnessed a dramatic moment of natural theatre as blackbird mother protected her young against a giant magpie.  Only I saw this free theatre, the rest of humanity was blind to it.

I witnessed a dramatic moment of natural theatre as a blackbird mother protected her young against a giant magpie. Only I saw this free theatre, the rest of humanity was blind to it.

It is a beautiful place in this Colchester square, the great water tower to my right, the Mercury Theatre in front, the many restaurants to my left.  Upon this seat, near blinded by the sun, a hot laptop, and another free wi-fi point, I take a temporary rest to enjoy a moment in the sun.

It is the Easter holidays, and many people parade past me, the children with their parents.  I like people watching, but I also have the sense of nature around me.  Sadly most of these people who walk by me live in a different world to me, they live in a world of facts, figures and material concerns, they are blind to the nature around them.  It is a blessing that I stand between two worlds, like the statue of Mercury who proudly runs atop the Mercury Theatre.  I see both the mundane world of humanity and the organic world of nature, both worlds wash over me like waves of the sea.

Nobody but I saw the battle that came about behind my seat.  The sudden commotion of a chattering female blackbird as a magpie appears.  There is a dramatic moment as the blackbird dive bombs the magpie that is twice its size, the magpie flees.  The theatre for humans in front of me, the theatre of nature behind me.  My intuition tells me there is a nest nearby, the eternal story of the mother defending her young.

Greenshoots

The cycle of life and death in nature.

A storm killed the parent tree last year in Colchester, its children live on.

A storm killed the parent tree last year in Colchester, its children live on.

In October last year I wrote about the loss of my soul mate an oak tree called the “Castle Tree” killed by a UK storm.  I rescued thirteen acorns from around the fallen tree, planting them in pots hoping that I could salvage something from the death of the tree. In the last few days three oak saplings have appeared in the pots.  I have witnessed the cycle of death and life via the “Castle Tree” and its children.

New beginnings

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

My fallen comrade, a tree, which dominated a field boundary.

My fallen comrade, a tree, which dominated a field boundary.

The eve of the Celtic new year, marked by what feels a new cycle in my life.  The eve of the first day of winter, the land marked by the passing of Storm St Jude.  The last 24 hours is like a rollercoaster of creative connections, like pieces of a jigsaw, connections fall into place, revealing the picture of solutions to long-standing challenges such as business branding and the direction in my life.

Escape from death

I returned to my camp site in the wood, the nighttime temperatures fell to a new low of 5 Celsius, I am testing my limits in nature, I passed the night challenge comfortably.  I had enclosed the camp on all sides with a boundary of branches, cut in half by the fallen tree, a victim of St Jude.  I previously considered locating my tent under the tree, had I done so, potential death.  Had I been standing under the tree at the wrong moment, for I had stood under it as St Jude smashed into the wood, I would be dead.  I am thankful for good fortune of life, the fallen tree and my escape from death teaches me about the impermanence of life, that life is a risk.

Spirit of Place

I believe all places have a spirit, essence, or life.  When I camp I ask the spirit of place to protect me and my belongings when I am there, for life is partly random chaos, thus there is a risk of harm from random events.  I would like to think the spirit of place watched out for me, I suffered no harm from the fallen tree.  From challenge, a hidden blessing, the fallen tree offers satisfaction of needs for a seat, protection from the wind and a place to hang clothes. This morning I made a dedication to the spirit of place in the Roman fashion:

“To the Spirit of this Place, Alexander faithfully fulfills his vow.”

A gift from ancestors

This morning, I cut through Cymbeline Meadows, in a field I find a tool from my ancestors, at least 3000-years-old.  The stone tool shaped like part of a pickaxe, the sort one might use to carve out a hole in the ground to plant crops by hand.  I shall visit the archaeologists to get their view on this tool.  The find is ironic, for today I was planting acorns.

Visit to a fallen friend

I pass where the oak tree I named “Castle Tree” fell, a tree whose death I grieve. There are thirteen cows in this field where the tree fell of mixed variety, some with horns, that like to shelter near the fallen tree from the weather in what is a field exposed to the elements.  I practice mindfulness and respect for the cows, who are at the other end of the field, mindful to what the cows do, and respect for their unpredictable nature.

Cow guardians

A pheasant flies away at my approach to my fallen friend, another unknown creature is moving amongst the fallen branches.  It is a sad scene of destruction.  The tree stump stands tall at the field boundary, a monument to my friend.  I look for acorns on the ground, there are none.  My mindful attention notes the cows galloping towards me, forcing me to run to a gate in an adjacent field.  The cows gather like watchful guardians on the other side of the gate, wary of me, sniffing at me as I talk to them, rejecting my offered grass.

Gathering of acorns

On the other side of the gate I find acorns that I was seeking from my fallen comrade.  I collect fourteen acorns, all brown and cracked, some with little roots seeking life-giving anchor into the earth.  Like a loving parent I place the acorns into my breast pocket.  I climb over several gates to avoid the watchful cows, I make my way to civilisation.

Challenges and Blessings

In civilisation I find pots and compost, I plant and water fourteen acorns, placing them at a location I thought was safe.

I visit a retail store in Colchester, purchasing two items for £2.00.  I tender £10.00, I leave the shop discovering I have been given £13.00 as change.  I look at the strange blessing in my hand, which should have been £8.00 rather than £13.00.

I return to my home in civilisation.  A challenge, as my landlord has been gardening and has disposed of some of the planted acorns.  I am upset, I keep my composure, there are no arguments.  I recover acorns, but one acorn is lost, I am now down to thirteen acorns.  The landlord offers additional pots and compost – a hidden blessing.

Thirteen appears a significant number today: thirteen cows; thirteen pounds(£); thirteen acorns.

The challenge over the acorns reveals another hidden blessing, the delay means I am available when a business customer turns up with little warning at the door with the final items that completes a jigsaw of a major business project.

Solstice Rainbows

The magic of nature and history.

Magical rainbow over Hilly Filelds, Colchester.

Magical rainbow over Hilly Fields, Colchester.

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.  I made the effort to awake at 4.00 am today to visit Hilly Fields, Colchester to mark this Solstice.  I suffered a series of challenging dreams where I was late, or in wrong locations, or suffered other mishaps in trying to mark the Solstice, waking up in one dream from another, wheels within wheels, the alarm woke me my relief to the real world.  The dreams and my dislike for such early mornings tempted me to stay in bed.

I synchronised my watch with the time on the internet, but the internet was less helpful about the time of sunrise in Colchester, giving me three separate times, not that it really mattered since there was no megaliths in Colchester to mark the rising sun against.  It seemed surreal that outside was daylight for more than an hour yet the sun was yet to rise.

Sun rise at the Palace of Cunobelin, Hilly Fields, Colchester.

Sun rise at the Palace of Cunobelin, Hilly Fields, Colchester.

I rushed out of the door with ten minutes to go before sunrise, the sky was already blazing golden-orange.  I sprinted down the road that was once an ancient river.  I passed a soldier who threw a comment in my direction, I did not hear it.  I vaulted over the wall dividing the Southway. I passed a surprised worker having an early cigarette.  I was glad no police patrol crossed my path, not that I would have stopped for them.  Down a gravel path I shot, to my right the new housing estate that now covered what was once the workhouse for the poor, much feared by the people who remembered it.  I avoided treading on the slugs, crossing over a spring, then into a field.  The rabbits scattered, as I zigzagged a mine field of rabbit holes. Then through a line of trees I was into the palace of the kings of my ancient ancestors.

Rainbow at Summer Solstice on Hilly Fields, Colchester.

Rainbow at Summer Solstice on Hilly Fields, Colchester.

This much neglected spot is really a wide open field upon the top of a great hill, once was the palace of Cunobelin, first king of Britain of the kings and queens that extend to our modern Queen Elizabeth II.  A great fortress of wood and soil, now long gone, the archaeology hidden in the ground, left to the imagination to conjure up its splendor.  Here was once the industrial and trading centre of Cunobelins mighty kingdom, capital of Britain, where they minted hundreds of thousands of gold coin.  Immortalised by Shakespeare in Cymbeline, King Cunobelin held court surrounded by warriors and druids; both his ancestors and descendents over one hundred years brought troubles to the shores of Britain as family power struggles caused first Julius Caesar to invade Britain, then a hundred years later Emperor Claudius.  This to me was Camelot, here alone with the rabbits I celebrated the Summer Solstice.

Sheepen Cauldron, Hilly Fields, Colchester.

Sheepen Cauldron, Hilly Fields, Colchester.

I positioned myself near the spot of an information sign relating the finding of a 3000 year-old cauldron, buried ritually upon its side, its opening facing east.  Cauldrons held a magical significance to my Celtic ancestors, connected to prosperity, rebirth and creativity.  This is the Sheepen Cauldron a highly valuable object to bury by my ancestors, buried into the side of the hill of the palace of Cunobelin.  The ideas associated with cauldrons may have evolved into the Arthurian legends of the Holy Grail, which had similar otherworldly properties.

The sun was attempting to fight through the rain clouds, the sky was a blaze of golden-orange.  Behind me a rainbow was forming.  Towering over me this rainbow was huge, with a ghostly second rainbow above it.  This display of nature in a place of history conjured up to me alone, whilst most of Colchester slept oblivious of this magical wonder.

Rainbow over trees where cauldron was buried, Hilly Fields, Colchester.

Rainbow over trees where the Sheepen cauldron was buried, Hilly Fields, Colchester.

As quickly as the rainbow came, it vanished.  The wind began blowing, the temperature dropped and it started raining.  It was time to leave.  I took a route back home, down the roads of the living, with their large houses and gardens, sharing the spaces that was once the vast cemeteries of the Romano-British dead, the long gone tombs and temples of my ancestors.  As I crossed the modern road upon an ancient Roman road which connected the Balkerne Gate of Roman Colchester to the Celtic settlement at Gosbecks, I remembered the legend associating rainbows with pots of gold, perhaps a sign of prosperity ahead upon the challenging road I must walk.

Bridges to prosperity

I review the purpose of this blog. (Warning potentially deep philosophy ahead!)

Logo of the Liberated Way.  The sun is prosperity, the bridge is creativity, wisdom and liberty.

Logo of the Liberated Way. The sun is prosperity, the bridge is creativity, wisdom and liberty.

In my town of Colchester the Celtic leader Cunobelin, the Romans considered the first king of Britain, struck an estimated one million gold coins.  Upon some of these coins was the image of an ear of corn, a Celtic symbol of prosperity.  In the rule of Cunobelin Colchester was the largest most well defended settlement in Britain, with a vast industry, farming, fishing and population.  In the Celtic mind the mother goddess blessed Colchester with strength and abundance, symbolised in the ear of corn struck on the coin.  Potentially even today, with its treasury of fertile land, abundant water and with investment in renewable energy Colchester could potentially out last any collapse of civilisation that could engulf the world.

In reviewing the purpose of my blog I asked myself what one word would describe this purpose: prosperity.  I define prosperity as health, happiness and abundance.  The word abundance can mean many good friends as well as wealth.

The logo I commissioned for Liberated Way over a year ago is a bridge leading to a rising sun.  The sun is my symbol for prosperity, the bridge is symbolic of creativity, wisdom and liberty which lead to prosperity.  Three blessings arise from the three bridges, which I hold sacred: play from creativity; experience (doing) from wisdom; and choice from liberty.  The three curses that arise from doing the opposite of the bridges, and lead to the opposite of prosperity, which is a wasteland: hubris instead of creativity; ignorance instead of wisdom; control instead of liberty.  Hubris and creativity are linked because they both spin-off from imagination; creativity is grounded in the earth, hubris floats in self-delusion.

The followers or readers of Liberated Way are stakeholders.  The stakeholder is defined as those who benefit from, participate in, and have a say in that which they have a stake in.  When I write my blog posts for Liberated Way I need to think in terms of stakeholder benefit, participation and feedback.  A blog post usually has something buried into it I hope a reader benefits from, the comments provide feedback, I have yet to work out how a stakeholder can participate in Liberated Way.

I am a steward of Liberated Way.  What defines the stewardship is a saying of a Celtic archetype called Bran: “let them who be chief be a bridge to their people.”  The steward is a bridge, the stakeholders are the people.  The steward looks after the stake in which the stakeholders have a stake in.  The relationship between steward to the stake is akin to the relationship of parent to child  In nature the mother and father swan take joint stewardship over the cygnets, their parenting is stewardship, which involve three roles: protection, feeding and guiding.

In Celtic philosophy the children are under the authority of the mother, to harm a child is to anger the mother and ultimately the goddess of the land with dire consequences.  In all Celtic legends is the relationship between king and the land, the aspect of the masculine and the feminine, for instance in King Arthur, whose hubris caused the break between land and kingship, the fall of Camelot, the wasteland and the quest to restore the connection in the Grail Quest. The stewardship is balanced between a masculine and a female aspect.  The female aspect is protection, feeding and guiding.  The male aspect is defined in the fourth branch of the Mabinogion “Math, the son of Mathonwy” The male is dependent upon their mother to give them three things, otherwise they are not a man: a sword, a name and a wife.  Without a sword the man is impotent and useless; without a name the man is invisible and nothing; without a wife the man is weak and a coward, since strength arises from the land, and the land is female.

In nature all motion is caused through imbalance where the inequality between two parts causes the stronger to move to balance with the weaker, thus there rises in this imbalance strife.  The sword of the steward maintains the imbalance so that there is always motion through healthy strife.  The name of the steward is about how that which is hidden, dark and potential becomes revealed, manifested and set in motion; a common theme in Celtic philosophy and many mythological traditions.  The wife is about joining the female and male in the universe together to create something, be it a baby or a poem; seeds buried in soil grow, seeds on rock die. The male who harms women, children, land or the female aspect becomes disconnected from the source of his creativity, wisdom and liberty; he becomes sick, weak and useless, a thing to be kicked into a hole and forgotten. Prosperity comes to the steward that links the female and male together.

From this background I am working on creating something in this blog of benefit to you the reader.

Connecting with animals

Animals are living creative beings that helps you reconnect with nature.

I have been watching over and feeding these Colchester cygnets and their parents since 2012.

I have been watching over and feeding these Colchester cygnets and their parents since 2012.

When you are a stakeholder in something you participate in it, benefit from it and have a say in it.  The problem of beautiful experiences in nature such as a singing bird, a rainbow or a colourful sunset is that I am the spectator in something I have no involvement in, thus the impact upon my intellectualised mind is minimal.  What impacts me the most is that which I can participate in, which is where animals help in opening a connection to nature for me.

Weekend morning I was walking across Abbeyfields Colchester when I came across a young black retriever dog running free.  Dogs can mind read you by looking at your eyes and face, this giving me the ability to convey things to dogs without the owner being aware.  The dog looked intently at me, I gave my face “come on then” and it ran towards me, I rewarded it with such a fuss that it sat there its eyes giving the look it was in doggy heaven.  Those are happy moments for me where I can connect with an animal just for the fun of it.

I had overdone the purchase of reduced price brown bread that filled my fridge, so I emptied the fridge of all the bread, heading down to the Colchester river to feed the swans.  First up was a lone swan backed up by a few ducks. Six brown rolls was the reward for the swan, it plodded out of the water right next to me and I ended up hand feeding it, bitten in the cold my fingers hurt.

Time was moving on, it was getting dark, I abandoned the swan to go looking for more swans to get rid of my burden of bread faster.  I came across five swans, three young swans, mum and dad at a lake adjacent to the river.  Two swans straight out of the water, three stayed in the water, which I hand fed.  More pain to my fingers in the cold from hungry beaks.  Last was six rolls that had turned rock hard, I tried to crush them as best I could and then threw them in the lake for the swans hoping the water would soften them.  I left the swans working at breaking those rolls up.  Thus ended my adventures with animals that allowed me to participate with a living creative aspect of nature.

Being transparent to stakeholders

Making available information to stakeholders they are entitled to builds good relationships.

Good communications means strong relationships.

Good communication means strong relationships.

A bad situation happened recently between a citizen and their local council in Wales where the citizen was arrested for filming proceedings of the council meeting on their mobile phone.  The situation ended up being reported in the UK national media, people got emotional in written words on the internet, people sued for libel, then went to court.

Chillingly councils and public authorities in the UK now have the power to sue for defamation against their citizens like any corporate or individual can, using taxpayer money to do so.  Carmarthen Council sued a local citizen for words written on a blog that criticised them, winning £25,000 damages that in effect financially destroyed the citizen.

In my town of Colchester our local council bans use of social media and filming in their council meetings, which is causing opposition from certain local bloggers.  The arguments in Colchester managed to combine with the Carmarthen dispute, being reported in the UK national media too. Because of the outcome of the Carmarthen case I have decided to ban politics from my future planned community blog-website for Colchester as being too risky.

As I pay Colchester council tax, use Colchester council services and vote in Colchester elections I am a stakeholder in my local Colchester council in that I benefit from, participate in and have a say in that council and its services.  As stakeholder I should in theory be entitled to a transparent access to all information pertaining to my council via the internet excluding legally, commercially or personally sensitive information.

From a business point of view my board game called Aquila is being prepared for being placed on a crowd source funding site such as Kickstarter.com, which means that every stakeholder who invests in it will be getting access to a website which records every action taken and penny spent in the project.

Corporate brand Patagonia created a stir recently in some sustainability circles when they made their supply chain transparent on the internet under the name “footprint”.

Change begins in the home and the community

Change is bottom up rather than from the ruler.

Everyone in Colchester ideally should be responsible stewards of this river as well as its plants and animals.

Everyone in Colchester ideally should be responsible stewards of this river as well as its plants and animals.

Too many people expect that change will come from the decision maker at the top over environmental issues, but as can be seen little progress has been made.  Most people are looking in the wrong direction for the change when it begins with self and the community.  The decision maker has a self-interest to maintain the status quo, but also are under the control of powerful and wealthy influences who have no interest in the welfare of you, your community or the environment.  Ironically if the decision maker wanted to make a difference in the environment they could only do so if you agreed to assist them, in fact they have limited ability to make changes, the change is with self and the community.

Each ruler, corporate or group exists because they are supported by individuals, if they had no support they would go extinct.  The individual stakeholder has great influence by withdrawing their support from those that harm people and nature, and giving support to those that are beneficial.

As an individual you can make dozens of immediate changes in your life and home that benefits the environment and your community.  You can buy local, recycle, provide food and nesting sites for animals in your garden.  You can eat healthy, eliminate the television, show a positive example of change to others in all you do and say.  There is so much as an individual you can do, multiplied by millions of people to create a tsunami of change, the sum of all the small changes in self, life and home.

As an individual you also have a direct influence over any environmental assets in your community, the rivers, forests and parks, plus all the animals and plants that inhabit them.  In your community you are a steward of all your local environmental assets.  Do you know where your environmental assets are? Have you visited them? Are they under threat? Can you enhance them as part of a group? Knowledge of your community environmental assets is vital, and working as a group to make sure no outsider does harm to your rivers, forests and parks is where you can make a significant difference.  It won’t be the ruler, it will be the communities who make the difference to the environment by looking after their own environmental assets just as they are doing in Namibia.

A week of prophecy and omen

The past week has been marked by prophecy and omen. 

My board game Aquila was known amongst the Celts as "wood wisdom" and was connected to skill and fate.

“Eternity is a child playing chess, the kingdom belongs to the child.” Heraclitus.

Popes

Pope Benedict shocked the world when he announced his resignation this week, the first Pope since the medieval ages to do so.  People consulted the surprisingly accurate prophecies about the Popes of Saint Malachy which identified Pope Benedict as the second to last Pope.  The prophecy of the last Pope reads:

“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end.”

The favourite front-runner for Pope is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

A few hours after the announcement of the resignation lightning struck St Peter’s  Basilica, an event caught by the media.  It all seemed too perfect to be true, the sort straight out of the imagination of a Hollywood movie script.

Volcanoes

This week the Italian volcanoes were drawing attention, Stromboli and Etna were being lively, the super volcano at Naples was showing unusual activity, a type of volcano capable of sending the planet into ice age and darkness.

Asteroids

The week ended with a large asteroid passing through between the satellites and earth of the size capable of destroying London.  On the same day a meteorite hit Russia injuring nearly 1000 people.

Mercury

This was the week when science and art came together to reveal a beautiful image of the planet Mercury, named after the god that was messenger of the gods.

Fall of Roman Colchester

These omens reminded me of my town of Colchester 2000 years ago.  The Romans had raped Celtic women causing them to revolt and march on Roman Colchester.  The Roman writer Tacitus reported that my ancestors in Colchester saw omens:

“At this juncture for no visible reason, the statue of Victory and Camulodunum fell down – with its back turned as though it were fleeing the enemy. Delirious women chanted of destruction at hand. A blood red colour in the sea, too, and shapes like human corpses left by the ebb tide, were interpreted hopefully by the Britons – and with terror by the settlers.”(Tacitus, Annals)

The Romans of Colchester hid inside the Temple of Claudius where Colchester Castle now stands, in which the Celts burnt them alive.  The Celts then destroyed London and other Roman cities.

Hope and Loss

This week two WordPress blog writers on sustainability that I follow were in despair about the future of humanity.  No omens or prophecies are required to know where unsustainable activities lead, the science of the Laws of Thermodynamics is blunt that only total breakdown is the result.

This Liberated Way blog attempts to look for positive solutions to the unsustainable paradigms humanity exists in, but will be realistic in stating that new beginnings come with the strife and destruction of the old, the holding onto the unsustainable ends in self-destruction.  The future of humanity will rest upon the shoulders of the few who will show a new sustainable paradigm.  The many will follow the few.  The choice for all is to be a sheep or the farmer.