discovering possibility – perceiving the levels of magic

January 17, 2014

kissing the limitless

When I started studying the Bardic grade (OBOD) I looked around at other blogs to see what others were doing.

On many Druidry related blogs I found mention of the book Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle. When I received the book I tried to read it, on several occasions, and the passages didn’t speak to me. I read the same paragraphs over and over and I couldn’t extract any meaning from them. The book sat on the shelf, catching my eye occasionally. I wondered whether I should put it in the goodwill bin.

This week, having run out of good fiction to read, out of desperation for something to read I picked up Kissing the Limitless again. And this time it was tantalising, my head whirled with the possibilities and potential offered by the text.

I recently wrote of reconnecting with my body. Yesterday, as I woke up early on a day that promised to be heavy with heat, I could have gone out into the garden to water the plants, give the dogs a scratch behind the ears, observe the birds and insects. But I didn’t, I fed my greedy little brain instead. Lately, I’ve been resisting the temptation to sign up for another university degree. It’s like a thirst that I just can’t quench. It would be repeating old patterns. My husband always asks me “what would you do with another degree?”. I always reply “know more, and do better”.  He is more focused on whether it will bring more income into the home.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
John Milton, Paradise Lost

Thorn Coyle speaks simply and directly. She doesn’t purport to be anybody bigger than herself. She doesn’t pretend to be a guru. She doesn’t sound like a zealot. Social justice runs through her veins, and she just speaks her truth, kindly and thoughtfully. She doesn’t sound like someone who is trying to convince you of anything, and she admits her struggles. She says that her natural tendency is to head straight for the  intellectual and it was only through learning dance, bringing spiritual work into the body, that she became connected to her body and emotions.

Every day, I say to myself that I should start the day with Sun Salutation, some kind of no-mind practice. Thorn Coyle says that she starts the day with yoga, and she can’t stand it, but she knows that she needs it (Interview with T Thorn Coyle). She says that everyday she has to consciously choose to honour her body, because if she doesn’t she becomes fragmented. Every day, she needs to remind herself to bring her self into the whole, to be integrated. This woman speaks my language.

Modern society puts us at odds with our bodies. Young children are fully engaged with their bodies and integrated in their selves. DE Harding called infants “headless” in his book On Having No Head – “headless and faceless and eyeless, immense at large, unseparate from your world – without being aware of your blessed condition” (page 36). Babies have no concept of mind, they have vision, and are always present. Along the way we lose our selves, we struggle to move and to feed ourselves well. We remove ourselves from conscious decision making.

At the end of some of the sections in Kissing the Limitless are some reflection points.

What is the path that has led me to this place? What do I wish for my life? What do I notice about myself right now. How have my perceptions changed over the past five years? What are my thoughts on self-knowledge, mastery, integration, and autonomy?

I have been on a winding path. I have been distracted by every shiny thing, rabbit hole, diversion, and character along the way. I have had no destination. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. Over the past five years, I have been able to determine what my truths are because I have become more stable, and that is largely due to my children’s needs forcing me to be more centred and grounded than I could ever have achieved on my own.

These are my truths, this is what I believe in…

  • the potential for people to heal themselves, with a little kindness from strangers.
  • reflecting on everything.
  • afternoon naps.
  • nourishment.
  • gardens.
  • going with the flow.
  • heart-felt honesty.
  • silence.
  • waiting.
  • breathing in and out.
  • speaking up and speaking out, when it is time.
  • honouring the struggle in order to unshackle fear, guilt, and shame, and release the dove of the soul.
  • dismantling ‘isms’.
  • humility.
  • allowing people to find their own level.
  • did I mention honesty?
  • promoting kindness, especially to children and animals.
  • being there, walking with, living simply, slowing down, Winicott’s ‘holding’.
  • the value of education.
  • letting wild things live.
  • growing trees.
  • mugs of hot comfort poured from a teapot.
  • the road less travelled, despite the hardship.
  • savouring the view.
  • possibility, patience, and potential.
  • being useful.
  • being playful.
  • sensible shoes, trousers, and black t-shirts.
  • being bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind.

So, this morning, despite a fairly sleepless night, I did sun salutation, I did some breathing, I sat and did a reiki attunement *. My sleepless night was the crash of a caffeine wave I’ve been riding. I have been on holidays and drinking tea. I love tea but caffeine is a poison to me, and I have been ignoring what my body needs. I have been ignoring hunger. I haven’t been eating well or exercising as much as my body requires. Today, I have been drinking herbal tea. Eating when I need to, and eating well.

I know that I spend so much time in my head, planning for the future, that I forget to live for today, forget to notice this very moment. Yet, despite all of this planning I have no grand plan.

Where do I want to be in five years? I don’t know.

Ten years? I don’t know.

Who really knows what is ahead of them? Sometimes life bowls balls at you that you never anticipated and plans become broken dreams.

How do I want to feel? Now, that’s a good question.

Integrated and whole. Headless. I want to experience moments of joy in each day, instead of hanging out for the ‘important’ stuff.

Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell.   This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know:  that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.
Mary Oliver

This morning, My youngest son was watching the children’s movie “Rio”. Normally his shows are just background noise for me as I go about my work on the computer. This morning, the work didn’t matter. I watched my son as he watched the movie. He was immersed, delighted, and present. He is such a joy, with his big feelings and hearty laugh. There is a joy-filled, tail-twitching, toe-tapping, booty-shaking song in the movie called “I wanna party” and it goes like this (resistance is futile)…


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.” 
Mary Oliver



* Inner Truth reiki attunement from the book “Attune to Divinity” by Mariah Windsong Couture (Outskirts Press)

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31 Comments on “discovering possibility – perceiving the levels of magic”

  1. greenmackenzie Says:

    Lots of wisdom in this post……and I love Mary Oliver


  2. colonialist Says:

    My vast level of intellect is reflected by how much I enjoyed the ‘I wanna party’!
    I am Druidfully ignorant, and barred from Bards.


    • tree girl Says:

      It’s a joyful tune isn’t it? Makes you want to shake your tail feathers!

      And as for being “barred from Bards” – me too, I didn’t pass the grade. Too much disdain for ritual, rigid adherence to visualisation, and the need to nominate a goddess to worship. There is much to learn from doing the study, and maybe one day I will understand the need for it.


  3. Brenda Says:

    Tree Girl, I really relate to your struggle to do what your body needs rather than ignore it and do whatever your brain prefers. A day started with a sun salutation sounds difficult to achieve, but worth doing. I try to walk every morning, but that ends up being 3-4 times a week often. A sun salutation could take place every morning. I’m going to try tomorrow in your honor. Peace and Joy, Brenda


    • tree girl Says:

      Warami Brenda

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment.

      Have you read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson? He considers walking as the very best exercise, especially one long walk per week. It’s an entertaining and thought provoking read. We try to do one long walk per week in the bush during our Winter. We call it “Sunday Stroll”.



      • Brenda Says:

        Hello Yanu, I don’t know the meaning of Warami, and when I tried to look it up, I was told it was a family in California, and surely that is not right. I’m going on the assumption it means hello or greetings. Are you in Australia? I was walking five to six miles once or twice a week for a while, but then it has iced over, and we are down to 2-3 miles most days. I love to walk, it’s when I feel most creative and in tune with myself. I especially like to walk with a friend and chat, we have great conversations and ideas. I have not read the primal blueprint, but I will put it on my list. 🙂 Thank you for following friendly fairy tales. I was delighted by your blog. Peace and Joy, Brenda

      • tree girl Says:

        Sorry Brenda

        “warami” is “good to see you” in Dharug language.

        “yanu” is “bye, I go”.

        Dharug is an Aboriginal clan in Sydney, Australia. We don’t use the word “tribe” here as it is considered offensive. We use the term “mob’ colloquially. There were hundreds of Aboriginal clans across Australia and they had their own languages and customs. Aboriginal people were not a homogenous group.

        A lot of the language has been lost, but academics are working with the few remaining Elders to reclaim the language. At our local school there will be a pilot programme to teach all of the children (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) Dharug language and culture. The first time it has been done in Australia. There are quite a number of programmes to teach Aboriginal kids language and culture but nothing inclusive has been done before. Deadly, eh (another coloquial term meaning ‘awesome’).

      • Brenda Says:

        Warami Tree Girl,

        Sorry I misunderstood Yanu. I’m so pleased you explained the terms. About the language teaching, that’s a wicked pissah, and that’s a colloquial term from my area meaning awesome. 🙂 I saw Rabbit Proof Fence recently, and I was impressed with the mob in that movie. Horrified by the patriarchal policies. In the US we have our own patriarchal stupidity to remember and in remembering, to try to avoid making the same offensive and even criminally bad decisions.

        I hope you are able to reclaim your language. Many of my ancestors were Irish, and the British succeeded in almost stamping out Gaelic, but I understand it’s coming back. I don’t know any of it at all, though. And that feels sad, somehow. At least I have a few German words for the German part of me.


      • tree girl Says:

        Rabbit Proof Fence always makes me cry. It’s heartbreaking because it’s a true story. It was a good movie, because it didn’t misrepresent the Aboriginal people, very respectful. Some of the stuff that is written about Aboriginal culture is all wrong.

      • Brenda Says:

        I’m glad you say that, I did wonder. Sometimes I think, as an outside, that things are sensitive, and then I learn they were not. It made me cry, too, more than once. It also made me feel proud for the indomitable spirit of humans.

        Kamala Markandaya wrote: Bend like the grass that you do not break. In the end, that is what I have done in my life, I have bent when I needed to, and I never have broken, despite many hardships and abuse. Like the grass, I turn back up to the sun, my roots intertwine with the roots of others, and I am part of the great plain of life.

        No people on earth are free of past hardships, no matter what color their skin is. And we are more similar to each other than we are different, partly because of those hardships.

        I look forward to hearing about the Aboriginal people. Perhaps I might someday set a story in the bush, if I could be sure it was not insensitive or just plain wrong. I would love to celebrate all peoples in the world on my blog. I have tried to learn about other cultures around the world and write about them in my stories. The more we all know each others stories, the more respect and caring can grow.

        Blessings, Brenda

      • tree girl Says:

        I agree. I love story as well, and use it a lot in my work with children and parents. We call it “yarning” here.

  4. Beauty Along the Road Says:

    Hello Tree Girl – I adore your “wallpaper” image of this beautiful tree. Is that a tea tree where tea tree oil comes from? I have never seen one myself. I take it you are in the Southern Hemisphere since you were talking about going in the garden….we are in the dead of winter, of course, up North.
    I loved that quote you gave from Mary Oliver: “that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness”. The older I get the more I understand that the degree to which we can pay attention to the world inside and outside of ourselves, we get to experience more deeply and fully, and, therefore, understand more and more our own realitly as Soul and bodies housing a Soul….
    Thank you for your follow, that’s how I found you..


    • tree girl Says:

      Warami Beauty Along The Road

      Yes, it is a melaleuca, or a tea tree. We went to a park nearer to the city quite a few years ago, and these trees were planted along a creek, possibly for two kilometers. All as old and as beautiful as each other – gnarly and papery. They looked like they had been planted so they couldn’t be any older than 200 years.

      I live in the Blue Mountains in Australia, a pleasure and a privilege.

      Yes, we can’t do something amazing every day, but we can be amazed by something every day. Today I learnt a bit about Aboriginal astronomy, so sometime soon (not tonight because it is raining, thankfully a reprieve from the heat) I am going to look for the Great Emu in the sky. The Great Emu is found within the dark spaces of the Milky Way. Whilst I was washing the dishes it occurred to me that whitefellas (not a derogatory term here, I grew up as a whitefella) only look for the patterns created by the stars, but the Aboriginal people saw the patterns in the spaces between the stars. Wow!

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.



      • Beauty Along the Road Says:

        Lovely to hear from you, Yanu. My name is Annette and I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, USA.
        Will you share on your blog what you are learning about Aboriginal astronomy, It sounds fascinating…

      • tree girl Says:

        Hi Annette

        “warami” is “good to see you” in Dharug language.

        “yanu” is “bye, I go”.

        How about that, you are in some mountains of blue as well. They look very beautiful. I would like to see the wilderness areas of the US one day. I asked a work colleague upon her return from a 6 week trip to the US if she saw any “wild places”. She said Las Vegas was pretty wild! She only saw theme parks, big toy stores, and cities.

        I am excited to be walking down this path of discovering Aboriginal astronomy. The Aboriginal people had many hundreds of clans, and each clan had it’s own language and customs according to the Country they were living in. The area I live in is Gundungurra/Dharug Country. Much of the culture and language has been lost, so I won’t be able to get specific info about the local beliefs. But I will be able to get some general info.

        Thank you for your comment.


        – tree girl

      • Beauty Along the Road Says:

        I escaped from those “wild” city places and moved to a very rural mountainous area. Some places here, all you can see is mountain after mountain, no signs of humans….
        You know, I can’t get over the image of that beautiful tea tree. As if it is calling me….it is such a beautiful tree and reminds me a lot of our sycamore trees that have a similar white bark and grow very tall.

      • tree girl Says:

        I’ll see if I can find some of the other photos that we took that day and post them. These trees have character.

        You should hear our she-oak (casuarina). They are not much to look at, but they sing a mournful cry when the wind blows through them. They clack and creak and shudder. They are very spiritual. I get chills just thinking about them. I did a post on them

      • Beauty Along the Road Says:

        What a stunningly beautiful tree – I love those layers of bark wrapped around the trunk. I would like to find some peeled bark on the ground and collect it. Then create something with it, like the cover of a journal, or write a poem on it and frame it….

      • tree girl Says:

        Warami Annette

        When I was a kid the bark was used to line hanging pots. A journal cover is a much more noble use for it. Though it is not very robust, it would probably need to be lacquered to preserve it.

        The paper bark is very soft. Aboriginal people would have used the bark to line their shelters, and for bedding. Wet paper bark was used to wrap food so it could be cooked in the camp fire.

      • Beauty Along the Road Says:

        I’m always intrigued by the traditional uses of these natural materials. When I lived in the Caribbean, banana leaves were used to wrap food in, then steam it. It was the perfect packaging material. Food could also be served on fresh banana leaves platters- very beautiful.
        Artists would dry the banana leaves into a tan brown material, then cut out shapes and make beautiful banana leaf collages for greeting cards or small pictures…

  5. persey12 Says:

    Integrated and whole, this is my language. And it is exactly what I have been trying to work on for the past few months, I expect it to last at least a few years.
    I love, love that post. Thank you.


    • tree girl Says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting Persey.

      I am finding the work by T Thorn Coyle most inspiring. It seeps into your skin and bones, and the very core of your being.

      Blessings on your path.


  6. dadirri7 Says:

    we live in the she-oaks too … but no paperbarks here … love your post, and Mary Oliver, I read her poems to my yoga students … I stopped studying about 13 years ago and decided to just be, like your list, breathing, walking, not thinking, simply paying attention, life is there, waiting to be noticed … we don’t know what is ahead, each moment leads to the next, it is a blessing to be present 🙂 Now I am blissing out on your paperbarks!!


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