Read the World Over?


I tell you, a combination of Son and Lass’s peregrinations and this blogging lark has brought my geographical knowledge on in leaps and bounds. You see, I follow the Young Things on the World Map. You may think this is a somewhat footling comment to make but, for one as geographically compromised as I am, it is amazing to begin to know where the various continents and countries are in relation to one another.

The statistics section of the blog is fascinatingly informative in terms of countries one gets views from. Initially, my reaction tended to be, ‘Where’s that, then?’ or even, embarrassingly, ‘Never heard of that: Sound like an internal organ!’

Now? Well, now I can actually picture the shape of the map – and, if asked, might be able to plot a few countries accurately without looking, though I have to say that the ones ending in ‘Stan’ do have me stymied at present (nothing personal!).

I had an in-depth look at all country-related stats since I started this version of my blog back in December 2015 – and my vitals were properly stapped, I can tell you!

I don’t go down big – or, indeed, at all – in Greenland (but then, who does?); Svalbard, similarly, has never heard of me (nor, if I am honest, I of it!); parts of Africa are an Ali-Free Zone, as are Bolivia and Paraguay. Papua New Guinea and Yemen are other notable absentees from the Alienora Reading Club, as is Madagascar. In the Stans, my posts have dropped like the proverbial stone – and North Korea is not exactly beating the literary door down to get at my little gems! Ditto Laos!

There are a couple of others, I am sure…

But, with the exception of the above, I have been read by at least one person in every other part of the world!


DP:A Total Pain in the Arse!

I may well give the impression of being a thorough-going bawd, a rude and raucous little number whose spiritual twin is Fanny Hill and whose Sensitivity Quotient is in single figures – but impressions can be misleading! Though my humour is often a tad fundamental (!), the very keister of wit, clever clunge, reprehensibly-wrought rusty dusty, rude rass, it is just an impression


Time to tinker with, and trounce, another taboo, methinks!

So, you will, I am quite sure, be completely cognizant of the fact that I have hatched a sprog, albeit somewhat later than most mamas. The pregnancy went very smoothly, though some doctors frowned, chewed their metaphorical moustaches and opined that, due to my advanced age (virtual Cronehood in their eyes), there was a significant chance of Down Syndrome (in the foetus, you understand; I already knew that I wasn’t afflicted) and that a needle in the womb was worth two in the topiary.

Well, I wasn’t having any part of that little lot: Opted, instead, for the much gentler Nuchal Fold Screening, a quick attack of Medical Vampirism to test for likelihood and, frankly, the knowledge that I’d love the little blighter irrespective. As I did, and have continued to do.

As it transpired (possibly in Transylvania – metaphorically: Honest to God, some of the medics I came across lacked only the reversible black/red cape and fangs to be dead ringers for the Count himself!), my blood suggested that my small uterine stowaway had a 1:2,500 chance of abnormality – and that was more than good enough for me.

So it was that I heaved and hoed, hollered, and f***ing hurt and, on that November night, finally passed what felt like a brace of ocean-going liners, but was, in fact, my beloved offspring.

What they don’t tell you, or maybe I blanked it out through sheer horror, is the effects of childbirth upon – er, how can I express this delicately? – your Voiding Mechanism. Ye gods! For a week, or more, I was convinced – and I mean totally certain, no room for error! – that every period spent upon the Porcelain Throne would result in the jettisoning of my entire set of internal organs which, at that stage, I envisaged as bagged giblets, a la festive turkey, just waiting to be hoicked out by the more gentle intestinal work-out! Accompanied, of course, by slaughter-house volumes of blood and gore. This, my dears, is what a vivid imagination will do for you.

I won’t get any more graphic than that: There may well be children in the ‘audience’ or breakfast in the offing…

To cut to the chase, amidst cries of, ‘Oh, get ON with it!’ (which should twitch a grimacing smile from my Sistren and Brethren in Shadow of the Tor, unless they’ve all fainted by this point!), I have become afflicted by the Ol’ Farmer Gileses!

We laugh about them, don’t we? They become the butt (sorry: couldn’t resist!) of many a bantering bout of bestial humour. But, and no more arsing around, they are a pain in the bum in real life. What with the stinging, the infuriating itching – which makes the sufferer want to reach for a bidet of ice-cubes or a Surface-to-Air Missile (and blow the little fuckers into the middle of next week) – and the feeling of being a Below-the-Belt Freak, a Posterial Pariah; the terror that no man will ever want one sexually again (not that, after passing a small continent vaginally, one has even the remotest interest in the pleasures of the groin! I would as soon have hysterectomised myself with a rusty coat hook, quite honestly!) and, well, yada yada yada, I have completely lost control of this sentence!

Yesterday – convinced I was aflame down Yond and possessed by ever-more lurid images of Farmers the size of cantaloupes; needing a wheelbarrow to carry the bloody things and so forth – I high-tailed it down to the Health Centre and asked to commune with a doctor.

The male doc I saw was a jolly soul – Thank Goddess: I think the lugubrious variety would have had me heading for the hills! – and, chaperone in situ, he instructed me to divest myself of my lower garments and, in a manner of speaking, spread ’em!

I have to say that this kind of examination is a decidedly over-rated pleasure, but I kept up a stream of witty repartee (not easy when the glove comes out and swings your way!) which, to my slight shame, included a breezy, ‘Always good to get to the bottom of things, what?!’ as I writhed upon the deuced uncomfortable gurney.

The doctor burst out laughing anyway. I often seem to have this effect upon trained medics. To my relief, he found nothing untoward – though quite what I was expecting, I am not 100% sure: A little known tribe up there? A herd of goats? The Missing Link?

Light with relief, and armed with a prescription for some soothing balm or another, I waddled out. The night before, I would have been all-too-happy if said ointment had included Hydrochloric Acid, or similar; but now, whistling a merry snatch from ‘The Pirates of Penzance‘ (‘I am the Pirate King…’ for those who give a toss either way!), I wanted gentle and caring and painfree!

Any old how, this problem is very common amongst humans generally – and post-childbirth women particularly – but it is not something many admit to or discuss. Those of you who have read ‘Come Laughing!’ will be aware that it includes a full and frank chapter on IUD insertion and an even fuller and more graphic discussion upon the relative merits of the Roundhead versus the Cavalier when it comes to the Turgid Todger. So, today’s little ‘talk’ should not come as any surprise!

Bottoms up!

Raven Song: DP

My posts are weaving in and out of the brightly-coloured ribbons of other writers who attended the recent Feathered Seer weekend. We touch upon common themes; we inspire one another; we anticipate the next ball of thread upon the loom.

We, the Clan of the Raven held tight in Hexagram, yet face outwards, a catapult of spinning lore, deep bone rhythm and Corvid cries whirling out from the centre.

In my silence, I connect. My sexual wounds from this lifetime chime deeply with the great bells of past ripping and wrenching of female limbs, of harsh mistreatment of hidden soft parts, of taking that which was not offered. My blood flows with theirs, meets in a river of Maiden, Mother, Crone abuse.

I am not man. Not this time around. And, therefore, despite empathy, I cannot be male; nor can I understand the urge, by no means universal, that prompts such a tearing, violent plunge into territory belonging to another.

Ravens caw over the battlefields of men, horses, dogs. Do they also lament – a hoarse and lonely ‘Awk!’ – over the graveyards of women’s bodies? Over the Passchendaele of womb pierced by lance, vagina torn asunder by lust, babes cut from living bellies?

Crosses commemorate fallen men the world over. Quite right: Their courage should be remembered; the senseless and lengthy lists of the war-dead should be mourned.

But what of the women who fall in battles symbolic? Who end up as little more than a tag on the toe in a dark and gloomy Morgue. Or the children, cut down in their prime by pointless acts of violence; decimated by disease; fated never to know love or offspring of their own.

What of them?

The Song of the Raven Clan, seeded by Father and grown by Mother, sparked by Man and birthed by Woman, using the energies of both Squire and Maiden, Sage and Crone, drummed into being by Weaver and Spinner.

In my silver dress, ribbons flowing, I am vulnerable, naked. I am both me and the essence of womanhood. I am Lore-Spinner of tales I wish I did not recall. I am Story-Teller of tragedy, both my own and that of others. I plait the colours, a Maypole of Bardic fertility and terrible sadness.

I am the skin beneath the covering; the face unadorned; I am the lines of pain and age; I am the rumpled tissues around the body from earlier wounds; I am human imperfection and damage and survival.

My silver scales transmute into feathers; my face draws in to form a midnight beak. My vocal cords, grating, beat in time with drum and stick and dance and the murderous flurry of other Ravens to create the gritty and thrumming harshness of embryonic song.

Sound catapults out as note-stones, a scale of pain and loss, a lamenting minor key.

We croak, caw and call in unison.


Manchester and Other Atrocities: King Herod: All Children, Young, to Slay…

Manchester. Gig. Horror beyond measure, beyond imagination’s capacious reach. Yet another so-called Terror Attack. Not doubting either the terror or the word ‘attack’. I weep for those lost, those who saw, those who wake bereaved this morning.

But maybe it is time to call a spade a spade: This was Mass Murder, by a latter-day Herod, of CHILDREN.

Oh, not for the first time. Of that I am excruciatingly aware: Children gunned down, over the years, in their hundreds in High Schools, Primary Schools, War-torn Countries; murdered by ‘loving’ parents for reasons way beyond my ken; slaughtered by one another for Gang reasons, for ascendancy denied, for jealousy and spite.

This scatter-gun – and I use the term with forethought, thinking of the many gun-related incidents – approach; this indiscriminate bombing of fellow human beings, and children at that, serves what purpose?

You tell me. I cannot begin to understand the motivation.

Other, that is, than the dubious prize of Media attention and making a point – terminally.

In too many cases, the desire to murder seems to spring from bitterness; a sense of being hard-done-by; a need for vengeance for wrongs real or imaginary; envy of another’s life style.

King Herod, in targeting one tiny baby, slew all of them. This is what we are seeing time after time: Pocket Herods, armed with the Suicide Bomber’s Kit, or stealing a vehicle to use with lethal intent, furious at one person, or one system, or one regime, slaughtering hundreds who are, by and large, innocent of any crime and had, excuse my anger, fuck-all to do with whatever injustice the latest Herod has suffered.

Why children? Girl children, boy children, teenagers – the principle is the same.

Why? Because the Herods of our world need, desire, feed upon maximum impact and cannot resist the temptation to prey upon, and kill, the most vulnerable.

Tiny babies? Yes, that was a real sign of your masculinity and strength, wasn’t it, Herod? What a hero…

Kill yourself for a cause? Go right ahead. Be my guest. But do not, Herod, convince yourself that taking others with you to some illusory Heaven, Valhalla, Elysium Fields can ever be justified or right any wrongs inflicted upon you.

We all know that two wrongs do not make a right. So why, Herods of our Planet, do you continue to stick two deadly fingers up at this fundamental truth – and send your men on merciless journeys of multiple destruction? Why is your sense of entitlement and rage so much more important than the lives of others?

My deepest sympathy, and sense of grief, goes out to those affected in Manchester.

The Feathered Seer – Part 3 (No. Really. The Feathered Seer!)

An amazing look at The Feathered Seer from the perspective of a Shaman. The mentions of the Song of the Raven Clan brought back many memories – and some gaps too.

Shamanic Paths

Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor
Copyright: Graham Dunn

During the exploration session on Spirit Animals, presented during The Silent Eye (a modern mystery school) “Leaf and Flame: the Foliate Man” weekend in 2016, one of the companions enquired about “Shape-shifting”. Since this was outside the scope of the discussion, the concept was briefly addressed without going into any real detail. It was, therefore, with some surprise, that I found myself agreeing to present an exploration session on the topic during “The Feathered Seer” weekend in 2017.

As April approached, the usual buzz of anticipation built towards the day that the work-book was released, and roles revealed. Most surprised, therefore, when an email arrived indicating the “costume” arrangements for the weekend. Other than the, at this stage, mysterious “Weaver” and “Spinner”, only I would be required to be costumed: in the role of Shaman…

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Adrift in the Sky’s Ocean…


Contrails scorch the sky with white-gold heated needles, as planes move silently through the the firmament’s blue-gilt material. Clouds deepen, spread, are infused with the blood of a dying Sun and blush fiery pink in reverence and renewed life.

The vast Oceanic heavens above – radiantly alight in the West as another plane, a man-made comet, comes streaking through – allow me to drift in a boat woven from late sun and peace.

Birds call. Colours become ever more vibrant. I am adrift, lulled by the waves of beauty, my mind unchained and free to dive into the limitless depths of the unconscious.

My garden is gifted with a late chalice of light.

Empaths – and the Punitive Response to Trauma.


I have written, exhaustively, about being sexually assaulted by a stranger back in the late eighties – and do not intend to walk down that dark and painful path again.

This post deals with one, to me unexpected, fallout from that moment of horror: The loss of friends, and near loss of my job.

Other people’s emotions can be very hard to handle, even for Empaths. The more powerful and raw the manifestation of trauma, the more confronting it is for those watching. In some it triggers things they have no wish – or, perhaps, ability – to face in themselves. In others, the waters of human emotion are extremely shallow – and they seek froth and laughter and jolliness relentlessly.

Prior to the assault, I had been part of a Word Game Group of friends. We met once a week and had a pretty hilarious time playing Balderdash and drinking wine and chatting and laughing. One of those people had already been my friend for some years – and, even then, we had a deeper bond than the somewhat superficial word gaming scene.

I can see now that I had PTSD – and went into fairly classic shock and grief and anger and acting out mode. I drank and smoked too much. I wept and raged. I withdrew into myself and struggled to be sociable. I felt tainted and damaged and guilty and desperately afraid.

Crucially, for the group situation, I stopped being a laugh – and was rejected as a result.

We all used to meet in the same Weston pub. I still remember the horror of being sent to Coventry by this group of ‘friends’: Of them turning their backs, physically and literally, when I walked in; of being able to hear one of them telling the others, ‘Don’t talk to her…’; of feeling like a pariah, a leper, a criminal; of hearing them laughing at, and about, me. I did not know until fairly recently that they gave my friend a hard time too: Made him, in effect, choose between me and them – and he had little option since, at the time, he was in a relationship with another member of the group and, thus, could not easily go out on a limb.

He has said since that their behaviour was cruel and callous. At the time, I was so busy blaming myself for being broken and faulty and imperfect that I could not see that. All I could see was that I was a naughty and difficult girl, deserved my punishment and had to try harder to be normal and acceptable and socially adept.

The view, both in my social circle and at school, was very simple: I hadn’t actually been raped or seriously injured, therefore I should have got over it very quickly and stopped being so poorly behaved, so antisocial, so self-indulgent.

In vain did I try and point out that violation is violation, that the punch which fractured half a tooth was very real violence, that the imprint of rough hands on my breasts lasted for days, if not weeks.

I do not know, even now, why this assault triggered such a strong response in my friendship group. Were the women frightened that it might happen to them? After all, the man who attacked me was never caught. Did the whole thing engender, in some of the men, a worry about what they might be capable of if sufficiently provoked by a woman? Uncover violent fantasies they did not wish to look at?

Or was it simply that the childlike rawness of my desperate grief and hurt was too much for them to cope with? That it reminded some of them of being small and powerless and prey to the superior (and, at times, punitive) strength of the adult world?

Perhaps some of them secretly thought I had asked for it, walking home alone late at night dressed in pretty clothes.

That wound has stayed with me. Oh, it scabbed over eventually  – and I thought I had both forgiven and forgotten. But sometimes, other incidents have the effect of ripping scabs off a much older cut and bringing both the pain and the blood back into the present.

The friend who was put in an impossible situation remained in my life. None of the others did.

The grim truth of the matter is this: The big severances of life (bereavement, divorce, serious illness, trauma, house moves) confront the deepest feelings both of those going through them and those who watch from the sidelines – and ability to cope is not a given in either group.

Something very similar, though far more subtle and, I have to say, underhand, happened during the divorce process – and the wound from so long ago re-opened with a vengeance. For some, the effects of my grief, pain and fear proved too much. Those who mattered, and that included my friend from way back, stuck with me through the very worst of it.

It is a truism that you find out who your true friends are at the darkest moments of your life, and this is, in my view, accurate.

It is easy to be friends with someone when the sun is shining, the laughter is flowing, when all is light and lissom and lilting and lovely. It is far harder when the sky darkens and rain pelts down and storms batter the land and the other person is not always fun to be around.

The state of the world, in the bigger sense, is a reflection of the way we deal with one another in the much smaller sense. Our social bonds and behaviour define us. Our tolerance for individuals, our fidelity, our emotional honesty are all pointers to a much wider theme.

We all need laughter and fun and joyous shared activities in our lives. A sunny bond is a happy one. Perhaps, however, we all need to ask ourselves at some point, ‘Will I still want to be around this person during the dark times?’ because, Goddess knows, that is a very different, and far more challenging, proposition.

Love, as Shakespeare put it so wisely, does not alter when it alteration finds – and the responses I have had from some people have shown, sadly, that the seeds of love were only ever shallowly planted and became blighted at the first evidence of an emotional Winter.

I think the analogy apt: Those who evince impatience when the effects of trauma do not disappear with the click of a finger are, in the metaphorical sense, complaining because Winter goes on for months rather than minutes. Both, however, will move on to Spring eventually!

And I cannot help feeling that those who campaign vigorously for the world, whilst ignoring the needs of the individual, are, in some ways, rather missing the point.

Compassion and empathy cost nothing. The widespread lack of them, however, could very well cost the earth.