The Open Gyre

"If an oracle is a form of words, and the fulfilment of an oracle consists in the match - some kind of match - between those words and an event, in the future or the present or the past, then the ultimate question about an oracle … is not whether it tells the truth but what we will allow to count as the truth." In other words we are, without knowing it, our own oracles. (Woods / Banville)

An oracle doesn’t need to be words, just a form, but otherwise yes …

I saw a kestrel hovering low over a patch of grass and shrubbery near Maze Spinney today. It kept stooping but arresting the dive well before the ground which made me wonder if it was just changing its mind or whether it was catching flying insects. Overall I’m guessing the former as stooping seems like an unlikely way to catch insects on the wing.

(Photo by Paul Cecil. I picked it because the one I saw had the sun shining through its feathers in a similar way.)

I saw a kestrel hovering low over a patch of grass and shrubbery near Maze Spinney today. It kept stooping but arresting the dive well before the ground which made me wonder if it was just changing its mind or whether it was catching flying insects. Overall I’m guessing the former as stooping seems like an unlikely way to catch insects on the wing.

(Photo by Paul Cecil. I picked it because the one I saw had the sun shining through its feathers in a similar way.)

I sent a friend Lisa Dalby’s essay and video on the 'Butterfly from Beyond', and he drew my attention to this in return:

“[Val Plumwood] died in 2008 […] As we stood around the open cardboard coffin a large butterfly flew amongst us and settled on Val’s body. It stayed there long enough for us to feel that the moment was truly significant. Then it took wing and disappeared into the forest […] This awesome moment was expressive of much of Val’s philosophy. We saw before us the intentionality of other creatures—always mysterious, but never mindless—and we experienced ourselves as creatures who are attentive to others and who are participants in the life of the world.” (Deborah Bird Rose)

For some reason today I got to thinking about this place in Devon where I used to go with my family when I was younger. One of my favourite things in life was climbing to the top of the promontory and watching the wind make a rolling green sea of the treetops.

In the summer we’d dam up pools in the river and swim in the warm fulvous water.

(Pictures by Stephen Craven & Trevor Hadfield)

Several sand martins passed through the garden this week. One flew right past the bedroom window and rolled over from dark upperside to pale underside and back again in a flash.

Divination: ‘… to get out of a closed, egocentric system, to get into touch with “otherness” …’ 

(Mantike, Ed. Sarah Iles Johnston & Peter T. Struck. Brill: Boston 2005)

Divination: ‘… to get out of a closed, egocentric system, to get into touch with “otherness” …’

(Mantike, Ed. Sarah Iles Johnston & Peter T. Struck. Brill: Boston 2005)

"In the stories we tell about ourselves, our uniqueness is a common refrain. According to some, this lies in our ability to create civilization, and so protect ourselves from nature, red in tooth and claw. Others point to the fact that we are the only creatures that can understand the difference between good and evil, and therefore are the only creatures capable of being good or evil. Some say we are unique because we have reason: we are rational animals alone in a world of irrational brutes. Others think it is our use of language that decisively separates us from dumb animals. Some say we are unique because we alone are capable of free will and action. Others think our uniqueness lies in the fact that we alone are capable of love. Some say that we alone are capable of understanding the nature and basis of true happiness. Others think we are unique because we alone can understand that we are going to die.

I don’t believe any of these stories as accounts of a critical gulf between us and other creatures. Some of the things we think they can’t do, they can. And some of the things we think we can do, we can’t. As for the rest, well, it’s mostly a matter of degree rather than kind. Instead, our uniqueness lies simply in the fact that we tell these stories - and, what’s more, we can actually get ourselves to believe them. If I wanted a one-sentence definition of human beings, this would do: humans are the animals that believe the stories they tell about themselves. Humans are credulous animals.”

~ Mark Rowlands