The beetle strutting across the dead stag’s shoulder was a Dor Beetle, a type of dung beetle. I look it up when I get back to London. It is of the scarab beetle family and looks very much like the ancient Egyptian symbol. I decide to draw it on hand made paper, a drawing of its back and a drawing of its blue belly. I will make a scroll, though it is taking a long time to draw!
London seems very flat in comparison to the woods. I struggle making conversation with people, there doesn’t seem to be much to say. On the Tuesday I visit the garden a friend has donated to me (sort of). I dig up lots of stinging nettles. It seems like a waste to just throw them out so I decide to make nettle soup that evening. My hands get stung to bits in the process of making it, but it tastes alright.
There is some left over so I have it again the following night and now it tastes delicious. It also seems to have the effect of making me ludicrously happy. Rude Mechanicals are having a band meeting round Jowe’s and I just can’t help praising the effects of nettle soup and the wonder of the scarab beetle. I’m also hallucinating quite a bit, the guitarist Cos turns into ex member Phil, “Man from Uranus”, at one point and everything is decorated by exotic spiders. The wine soon calms that though.
Thursday night I volunteer at Treadwell’s bookshop and learn about magic stones in the medieval period.
Today, Friday, I feel like I have a cold. I can’t walk properly because I dropped a spade on my foot whilst gardening, it wasn’t painful at the time but now hurts a lot. I spend the day drawing the beetle and poplar tree branches which is very enjoyable. Why do I find drawing by hand so much more enjoyable than drawing on the computer?
On a stroll about Newington Green I smell a very strong smell like burning rubber. I look for somewhere to hide but all I can find in a hurry is a doorway. I curl up in a ball on the pavement and look intently at the ground for the pavement is doing amazing things. It has become something like out of space and is covered in very intricate colourful patterns, but the patterns are also people I know, not sure who, and then they are no longer people but gods. Only gods is the word I use for them now, at the time they were all powerful things that knew everything. And there was a snake like creature that swam in between them laughing. It is a different dimension, the rules that apply normally don’t apply there.
Anyway, I come round to several very worried looking faces starring at me. The pharmacist from the chemist takes me into the shop and gives me some water, when I have my words back I explain to him that it was just epilepsy and it has passed.
And that was my week. I’m teaching tomorrow so better go to bed now.
A picture of nettles and some variegated plant.
There was a beautiful stag lying on the floor of the wood, it had obviously been lying there for some time. My arriving made it panic, it thrashed its head about madly but couldn’t move its body. I hadn’t seen it till I turned the corner, it shocked me. It was dying slowly.
i pulled away and circled it from a distance. I couldn’t see any wound, there was no blood. It was a male, quite young I think, and well fed. He lay under the oak tree I drew last September and just before the beech tree where I had found the dead pigeon that moved with maggots. How odd that I should see two deaths in the same part of the wood. At the time I saw the pigeon I was worried about my dog dying, the dying stag brought that back to me, the night spent listening to him gasping for breath, his beloved food left in the bowl, stroking him on the vets table as they gave him the final injection. I’m told he was buried under a rose bush.
The stag seemed symbolic somehow, I felt the woods telling me an old story.
If I see the death of the stag as an offering to Jupiter under his symbol, the oak, does that make it seem more just?
It is not that I mind things dying, things have to die, but why was I there to see its slow death? I told Lou and Mike who own the woods, and took them to the spot where he lay. They considered trying to speed up his death but weren’t sure how. A phone call to a friend who knows about such things told them to leave him, stags are strong and hard to kill, we may have just made his death more horrific. When I got back to the cabin I gave a little prayer for him, to whichever god was listening.
At 10 the next morning Mike reported that the stag was still alive. I didn’t go and see him, didn’t want to frighten him any more. At 4 in the afternoon Mike visited again and reported him dead. I went up into the wood to see for myself. The area stank now. Mike had moved the body from its original position and dragged it into some bushes, its eyes had glazed over and insects were clustering around the edges. A very handsome black Beetle was determined to climb onto the body and after repeated attempts triumphantly strolled across its right shoulder with its fine petrol blue legs. The flies were gathering, this was now food.
Not an offering to Jupiter or any other human God, but an offering to the woods.
Today was beautiful. It is the day after my birthday. I wasn’t teaching as I do that on the weekends at the moment. The sun was out, I accidentally ended up strolling down the canal, had a coffee at a small hut by a lock and watched the water pass on by. I thought about how much happier I am now to how I was this time last year, how stressed and anxious I was in that flat in Hammersmith. I think it was the traffic that did it, six lanes of traffic going past my door. It made me ill psychologically and physically. I don’t think I can quite blame it for the cyst on my ovary, but the general poor immune system it caused didn’t help.
Every day I walked out of my door I cursed the traffic. I dreamt of them all crashing hideously into each other, imagined how I could blow them up. I’d walk down the street cursing them under my breath. There was black dirt under my nails all the time, I’m sure my skin was grey, if it was raining the traffic would race though puddles splashing pedestrians with black water so that my coat had a permanent grime to it no matter how often it was cleaned. The traffic haunted me, its sound spilled over the flat despite the heavily reinforced windows, it would appear in my sleep in the early mornings as I started to become conscious. I would sometimes sit on my sofa in the front room and watch the traffic jam outside, wishing death on every single person who sat behind a wheel on that road. I was a real life troll in the basement. The smell of engine fumes tainted everything.
The council had offered me the place seven years ago. I’d moved in because it was cheap, big, had a garden and my previous drunken neighbour had been threatening to throw me out of the window. I thought I would get used to the traffic, some people can, I didn’t. If anything I grew to hate it more each time I walked down the street. It put a bitterness to everything. As soon as I could I joined the the council housing swap site, but this proved to be futile, full of daydreamers who like snooping around other peoples homes.
An article in the local paper warned visitors to the area to avoid walking down Talgarth road, especially asthma sufferers or those with health problems. Nothing was mentioned about the residents.
The men I dated became my dream of an escape route. I would move in to his big house in Clapton/help him decorate his flat in Finchley/buy a narrow boat with him on the canal/escape with him to Hastings. All these failed of course, how could they not, a lover is not an escape route. When the last of those dreams collapsed I got very depressed. The pain in my abdomen from the ovarian cyst made things worse.
The old alien in the brain, with its propensity to cause hallucinations means depression in me can become paranoia. Friends were plotting against me, I was trapped, I couldn’t breath properly, they were poisoning my air. I managed to keep it under some control, age helps you learn how to deal with these things better, I managed to hide this from those close to me but it spilt out occasionally. I remember being horrible to friends, getting angry with my band, shouting at a friend who had organised a gig for us, and for all this I am very ashamed.
Rude Mechanicals, my band, have a song called Flying Lessons. It is about how I have captured an angel and am tearing off his wings for myself and learning to fly. It is a song about the desire to escape. I wrote it a long time ago. It seems I have spent a lot of my life in situations I don’t like but relying on others to get me out. I think now I am learning how to escape on my own.
In the end I had an operation to remove the ovarian cyst, which got rid of the pain. Wow, sometimes one forgets what not being in pain is like!
The lovely Mr Hastings left me for the east end of London. I gave the home swap one more determined effort and prayed to the gods. It worked! I have escaped Talgarth Road!
The bundle of hatred and anxiety I was is unravelling itself and for now at least I am the happiest I have been in a very long time with no need to escape.
Happy birthday to me
Jesus sits at the bottom of the glass bowl. He hasn’t grown very much. I was half hoping he might break the bowl. Perhaps the water is too cold for him, or too dirty.
Today was a slow lazy day, as Sundays are supposed to be, only I was teaching so I wasn’t supposed to be slow or lazy. I had a very minor seizure/vision in class. A very calm content feeling came over me as it often does just before, everything made sense and was wonderful. Luckily I’d told the students I was going to demonstrate how to stretch paper that day, so when I sensed the seizure coming on I told them I would be round the corner running the water in preparation. They are a nice bunch but I don’t want to panic them. I stand there in front of the taps, they have become massive, very slowly I grab one, cling on to it and turn it on. The water gushes out like a huge waterfall and the noise is deafening. The reflections in the shiny silver taps are bright and detached from objects in this universe. Swirling and triangular shapes grow and twist within its silver skin, attempting to escape, they tell stories I don’t understand. It is all so huge I’m loosing my grip on me. Must concentrate.
I took in a long deep slow breath, then another, stay calm and this will fade. Close your eyes, very slow, very calm. Slowly it faded, after a few minutes I returned to the class. I couldn’t remember words for a few minutes and prepared the demonstration in silence.
I’ve taken to making amulets and talisman for friends recently. It’s very enjoyable. I like making things that are not just aesthetic but have symbolism and the character of the person it is for entwined in it. I bath them for long periods on the altar and meditate on them. The cat meditates next to me.
Hera turned up in my head the other day. Maybe she was jealous of all my worshiping of Jupiter. I can’t really see she is significant to me, she is the goddess of marriage, which I can’t see much point to, tried it once, it didn’t suit me. What’s more she gets very jealous, which is something I am avoiding these days along with getting angry, paranoid and stressed. But there she was and is in my head. I have put a cow mask on the altar as the cow is her symbol. She talks to me of long term love and i reply to her mentioning her unfaithful husband and the fact that she didn’t want to marry him in the first place. She just sniffs at that. It seems strange talking about facts with fictional gods, but things have gone past the point of worrying about if it is strange or not.
So I started burning candles to Hera and Jupiter whilst pointing out to her that it is highly unlikely that a husband would put up with such odd activity during this day and age. Then Baset the cat goddess of the home seemed to get annoyed that I was missing her out as the heating broke down again and the builders started working directly above me.
At this point I decided this was getting all too complicated with these various Gods and I’m just going to go back to meditating on the Oak tree. I lite some dried oak leaves as inscence but burnt a small black circle into my finger whilst lighting it. It was very painful at the time but completely disappeared the next morning. A flesh sacrifice to the gods.
You may think I’m going a little insane here, but no, this is much more sane than it used to be, it is managing the beasts, that’s how come I can write about it.
To give Jesus his due he is now about twice the size he was when I got him.He has been in the glass jar 42 hours now. He was given to me as a birthday present from my sister a few years ago, I think she must have heard of my religious obsessiveness and was teasing. Although it is a silly plastic gimmick, to part of me it still means something important, like how the man climping the slope in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep is still important to the people even after they know he is just an actor. Or Something.
Worshiping Old Gods- because science is cold, Jesus is over-stretched, and boyfriends make rubbish Gods
An American couple I met last night told me to write my story down. Matt (a good friend who I may one day travel to India with) noticed me writing with my left hand and said something to the effect of “I didn’t know you are left handed, it that because of your damaged brain?”. Not terribly subtle but I don’t care, to tell you the truth I love talking about it and this is what I told the American couple. So I swigged back my glass of wine and explained: There is a creature living in my brain the size of a clenched fist. It sits on top of my hippocampus, causes memory problems, risk of haemorrhage, which it did quite badly in 2000, and epilepsy.
“The epilepsy”, I explained, “is interesting, and although the whole thing is very dangerous, it also has some surprising advantages that I wouldn’t be without.” I didn’t explain what, it was late and we were being chucked out of the venue. “You must write a book! Or write a blog they said”, and I had to admit that I did write a blog about it for a while, and I enjoyed writing it, but then I got all self-conscious about what other people might think so stopped.
Well, I’m getting on now and really I can’t be arsed what people think so much anymore. Time is a problem, and the difficulty in finding appropriate words – due to the alien creature in the brain – but Im going to write a bit more blog about it and other things that come up. Yes I’m writing all about me, it is terribly narcissistic, but then I am so why pretend otherwise? I am Miss Roberts after all.
Temporal lobe epilepsy does not make me see god, as some of the text books say, it just makes me experience an overwhelming, beautiful and painful vision which is religious. I call it a vision because that is what it is. The few times in my life I have had tablets that could completely get rid of this I have suffered depression. If you are curious about some of the experiences they are written in the Spletzer Martin story which is on this blog, a fictional story but only just. I’ll write about it more, I am obsessed.
Till recently this has just been visions and occasional hallucinations, they don’t make any sense, but over the last year I have been meditating and this seems to make sense out of the visions, though they are still difficult to explain.
In 2000 I was very very ill indeed from the haemorrhage. I spent quite a bit of time in hospital and in hospital I remember thinking that I might as well believe in a god or gods because doing so made me feel a lot happier and a lot less frightened. Since I can remember I have had voices in my head. Sometimes good, sometime bad, sometimes overtaking. There is one particular voice that is very caring and if I listen to it things seem to be alright in the end.
At the time, in hospital, I didn’t know which gods to believe in so I picked the christian God to start with. But my folks are very anti-christianity, and christian worshippers have been quite cruel to my family. My Dad took up acupuncture long before it was popular and some of the local christians in the area we lived regarded this as evil. Becoming a born again christian is about the most disapproved of thing I could do as far as my parents are concerned.
But I am a seeker.
I did try some milder forms, went to Quaker meetings for a while. I liked the hour just sitting there in silence, but didn’t much like the conversations afterwards which seemed almost business orientated.
I joined Krishna meetings for a while, as an alternative to Christianity, but during one event I dropped the sacred book onto the floor which was frowned upon. I left out of embarrassment and never returned.
I joined various Buddhist groups but none of these stuck. Too many rules and no place for visions.
So what next? Science is just too cold, when you are lying in a hospital bed thinking you might die, knowing that humans have invented sliced bread, the bomb and the catheter that has just packed up on you, really does not help. When I was young I remember being taught that there was no life at the bottom of the ocean. Humans at that time hadn’t visited the bottom of the ocean much, but science confirmed that the bottom of the ocean was empty. Now humans have been to the bottom of the ocean and discover it is teaming with life. This has made me rather dubious about sciences claim that there are no aliens or gods. Just because we haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it don’t exist. And I do experience something.
Yes I have held guru’s, teachers, and boyfriends in God-like status for brief periods, but they always prove to be a let down. They are only human. Bowie did quite well for a bit because he could somehow feel close yet was always at a distance, but then some of his later songs were really missing the point.
Last year I started a book about trees, I’m still writing it. I discovered I didn’t really know that much about trees and considering my day job is teaching botanical illustration I decided to find out more. One night as part of my investigations I found myself in a graveyard under an oak tree. I was on my own, locked in, sleeping between graves and the tree and I felt completely safe. Completely protected.
Now the Oak tree is a very beautiful tree, sacred to the Druids apparently, and Jupiter’s sacred tree. Jupiter is the Old Roman god, very much to do with protection. He is a good God to have on your side. Perhaps he is on my side.
Bastet (Bast, Basant) is an old Egyptian cat goddess. She is also a protective goddess. My flat is in Besant Court, when I arrived here the last tenant had left their cat behind. She is lovely. On the day my 20 year old washing machine dramatically exploded I asked her to help (the goddess, not my cat), I now have a new reasonably cheap washing machine that means my clothes dry quicker and no longer stink of mould!
So why, why I ask you, should I not worship these gods if it makes me happy? I have made a small alter in my front room and make little offerings to them. I light a candle, put down my Islamic rug, and meditate in front of the alter. Yes it is a shoddy hap-dash of gods from different times, places, and cultures, I even put a bit of voodoo in for good measure, but it seems to work and most importantly sits well with the my visions, and they are of course the absolute unfathomable truth.
Valentines Day – the next bit in the Spletzer Martin story because if I don’t write it now I’ve broken a New Years resolution already.
it is surprising how long Douglas and Elsie’s relationship lasted really. Early on it became apparent that she simply wasn’t built for children, a scan of the womb showed significant damage to the ovaries and holes in the outline of the womb. Perhaps due to all Abels sins, perhaps not. This hurt her, but something inside had known it all along. Instead she filled her life with projects, art projects, exhibitions and performances, and to start with Douglas joined in the projects. So the relationship seemed to run quite smoothly, after all she had never fancied him and this was an advantage, because such attraction often starts to fade after 6 months to a year, instead she had the excitement of working with one of the best known well connected people in the art world.
Of course it didn’t last, two years in and he isn’t interested in working with her anymore, she sees less and less of him. She is alone in his large house. She thinks about having an affair with the gardener who she gets on with well, but it turns out he is gay and has a boyfriend. She hangs around Douglas’ large town house, she doesn’t do admin work anymore, she feels too good for that. Projects on her own never get finished, she doesn’t seem to have the trust or confidence in herself to carry them out. Her hallucination attacks are a lot better, she feels safe here, there is nothing to be stressed about, but also she is cut off from her friends somewhat, she could see them, but somehow Douglas makes her friends seem stupid, lower, not worth spending time with. She is bored, moody and fading into the wallpaper.
Valentines that year she receives a small bunch of flowers via Interflora, no note, he is on the other side of the world. She thinks about how they had once been friends, enjoyed doing things together, and how having a long term relationship seemed to have destroyed the friendship. She wondered why the flowers made her cry, balling her eyes out over someone she had never fancied and had at the start found disgusting. She ordered the flowers into a nice arrangement in a large expensive pot the morning they arrived. “I suppose art is just about money”, she thought to herself vaguely ” money and markets and who says what to who, and power”, then she returns to the bedroom to sink into the green wallpaper and over stuffed duvet.
I read last years resolutions, of which I managed to keep about half; which is better than the year before, when I think I broke all of them within the first month. So this year it is a lot simpler:
- Get back into writing regular blogs
Writing helps order my thoughts, clears some of the nonsense in my mind and gives me an excuse to research irrelevant facts. Why would I not do it?
- Finish all those 101 things I’ve started but not completed
Well at least half of them. There are so many and my life feels like a half knitted jumper with lots of untied threads hanging out. This includes the Spletzer-Martin story and last year’s resolution about getting more illustration commissions which I broke (unless I include a dreadful mural commission which I regret taking on).
- Stop it with the paranoia and jealousy crap
Life is too short. So you may all be out to get me and laughing with evil sneering grimaces behind my back, but I have a god damn bomb in my brain and am too old to give a damn.
- Wear more wigs.