All posts by Stuart France

About Stuart France

Writer and Director of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School.

Not a stone…

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It is a familiar conundrum.

Whenever we come across sites like this, and we seem to come across more than a few, there is an inevitable question.

How much of it is natural?

Without question much of it is, but the more one finds that is not natural then the more one tends to question that which was initially assumed to be so.

On our most recent jaunt we came across the suspicious looking stone above.

To my mind that was very obviously a positioned stone.

It is an interestingly enough shaped stone in itself but more than this, it seems almost inconceivable that it could have fallen like that or have been left by retreating ‘Ice Giants’.

But then there arises the inevitable following question.

So why was it positioned in this way?

And to this question, unfortunately,  there is not always a readily forthcoming answer.

But this time we were lucky.

Question: ‘When is a stone, not a stone?’

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Answer: ‘When it is a nose (and an eye).’

Bardic Study – Waltz of the New Moon…

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Another one of Robin’s early efforts.

When invoking the  Bardic Spirit  there  are not  too many candidates around, unfortunately…

For a spell this was my all time favourite song ever, if only for its helter skelter whirl of minor key madness…

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I hear that
the Emperor of China
used to wear iron
shoes with ease…
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I think these lines refer to a type of ‘not to touch the earth’ scenario.
That is, The Emperor, who is regarded by his subjects as a ‘God incarnate’ is held to be too sacred to be sullied by the touch of the earth.
In contradistinction to this rather absurd notion Robin then sets out his own position.
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We are the tablecloth, and also the table, and also the fable of the dancing leaves…
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That is, we are  the structure and garment of life’s spread, both the Spirit and the Flesh and Bone, and the continual re-incarnation of the spirit in that continually recycled flesh…
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The new moon is rising
the axe of the thunder is broken
as never was
not since the flood
nor yet since the world began…
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This  process, in case we ever forget, is exemplified for us in the cycle of the Moon.
Every new moon then… is also a new beginning.
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The new moon is shining
the angels are washing their windows
above the years
whose jumble sale
goes spinning on below.
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Could anything be clearer?
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Ask the snail beneath the stone,
ask the stone beneath the wall
are there any stars at all?
Like an eagle in the sky,
tell me if air is strong…
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We may pity the stone and the snail their stony snail lives in the relative dark but even the eagle who knows about the sky and the stars knows nought of the constituents of the means of its flight.
These then are the natural and eternal hierarchies of an ever expanding understanding.
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In the floating pan pipe victories
of the golden harvest
safe in the care of
the dear moon…
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The notes of the pan pipe do float.
And the sickle moon is ultimately responsible for the cutting of the corn.
(This song was composed, at night, in a corn field, in August.)
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The new moon is rising
the eyelid of god is approaching
The humane train
the skating
raining
travelling
voice of certainty…
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The new moon is shining,
the harmonious hand is now holding,
Lord Krishna’s ring,
the eagle’s wing,
the voice of mother,
everything…
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And the voice of mother brings with it a bright blessing…
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In the floating palaces,
of the spinning castle…
May the Fire King’s Daughter,
bring water to you.
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The Fire King is the Sun.
The Fire King’s Daughter is the Moon.
The spinning castle is the Earth.
Its floating palaces are the Clouds.
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…Which bright blessing, is… the rain.
 
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‘Waltz of the New Moon’ appears on The Incredible String Band’s third studio album, ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’, which is widely regarded as their finest album.

The title is colloquial slang for a gallows or scaffold.

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Bardic Study – The Iron Stone…

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Another early song from Robin Williamson.
Not too much to interpret, perhaps, in this weeks offering.
Just a straight forward description of the finding of a stone, which we are bound to assume is the account of a true story.
And maybe, the answer to a mystery…
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A long wind
A weaving mind
Over all the land the wild flowers grow,
Echoing kind to kind.
On that day when I found the iron stone
Heavy in my hand in the sloping rain.
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Except, as descriptions of a day go that is, perhaps, far, far and away so far from normal as it is possible to be…
‘Long’ in time? Resulting in the ‘Weaving’ of mind?
The story teller could be fishing.
A ‘long wind’ where wind rhymes with mind would lead to a ‘slow reveal’…
It is extremely difficult not to be persuaded of some form of leave taking or transport here.
Who regards plant growth as an echo?
In a later version of this song ‘sloping rain’ becomes ‘floating rain’ which adds immeasurably to the other worldliness of the occasion.
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Ever the seas rolled on
And o’er my heart
They roofed their slates of grey,
The iron stone I found it on that day.
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As is that…
Has the singer collapsed on the beach?
All the seas raise grey slates over the singer’s heart?
In their natural course?
Okay, so maybe the stone itself is having this effect on its finder?
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The iron stone I brought it home.
Heavy in my hand I brought it home,
Black as the thoughts of doom,
A man told me it came from the moon…
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The last line, perhaps, indicates that the singer found the stone when still young…
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Flying through time it flew…
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Well, if it did come from the moon then it would have had to fly through time, or is it the singer who flies through time?…
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Upon the long beach where I found it,
Dancing horses told their tale.
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A poetic description of the sea but by this stage there could very well be talking horses prancing about upon the seashore…
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Among the stones it called me,
There my hand it knew.
Seeing in the thickness of its thick black sight,
Forests and centaurs and gods of the night,
Never that sun shone on…
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Ah ha!
It is a scrying stone, or at least it is being used as one.
The transfer of abilities from singer to stone supports the earlier interpretation.
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Where High Atlantis raised her shores,
How sang the dragons of the sea.
The Stag Hunt rushing round the world,
One turn of light its gone again.
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The Stag Hunt is spectral.
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The eyes of Merlin speak beneath their crown of silver grey.
A piece of iron, black and heavy.
Smooth and rounded by the sea,
Holding its sand and stones.
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It is tempting, perhaps, to regard the last three lines as spoken by Merlin…which may or may not be referring to the stone.
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To recap…
Boy  notices a smooth rounded dark stone amidst the pebbles on a rainy, windy beach.
He picks it up and is immediately transported to a wild flower strewn place where the rolling seas seem to speak to him and guard his emotions.
He takes the stone home and is told by a man that it comes from the moon.
Later he notices that by gazing into its dark depths he can see visions from an otherworldly realm.
And supposes that he encounters Merlin who speaks to him.
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 Personally, I think this is a birth-day song, but I could be wrong.
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 And the mystery it solves?
“He turned up good when he was fourteen, he was handsome and he was good and nobody remembers teaching him anything.”
– Billy Connolly (on Robin Williamson)
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Bardic Study – The Eyes of Fate…

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‘Oh, who can see in the eyes of fate,
All life alone in its chronic patterns?
Oh, swan, let me fly you
To the land of no winds blowing.
I know nothing, and know that I know nothing;
All is in the eye, and in its blinks of seeing.’

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The first verse appears to record a conversation between Swan and Fate. Swan asks a question and is invited by Fate to another world where no winds blow with the proviso that Fate itself is ignorant but merely watches. ‘Blinks’ here, operate as links of time.

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‘So just like the morning,
The ghost of the following day…

Listen…

Hoary, Hoary, Hoary, Hoary…
Rear the rollers, wild and stormy…
Echoes holy… Only lonely… Gone beforey… Hoary… Hoary…’

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The start of the next verse may represent the journey or flight and certainly if the morning is the ghost of the following day we have now travelled or somehow got beyond time in some way.

(Later in the song it becomes clear that this ‘disjoint’ in the day is not natural and can be rectified.)

This is immediately followed by an exhortation to listen…

‘Hoary’ here, is ‘venerable’, ‘ancient’ and ‘holy’.

Whatever decides Fate is very old and appears to be linked to the Sea which despite an absence of wind still rears and is stormy.

This ‘something’ is older than loneliness.

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‘Oh, rivalry and opinion still cast their wild spells.
Effort and contrariness change the directions of time.
The lion still growls in your hollowness.
Please let’s be easy, please let’s be friends.
Watching and learning like small children.’

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In this verse the wild nature of whatever governs Fate appears to be linked to Swan’s propensity for dissension  and emptiness.

Swan is exhorted to reconcile its differences with Fate and learn together by watching for and listening to the lonely ‘Old Friend’.

By so doing the schism in the days can be rectified and a harmony achieved which needs not fame nor fate.

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‘Till out of the morning
Is growing the strength of the day…

Listen…

Hoary, Hoary, Hoary, Hoary…
Hear the rollers, wild and stony…
Echoes holy… Only lonely… Gone beforey… Hoary… Hoary…

Servant of fame or fame for a servant, (Hoary… Hoary…)
You see what you see, you see seldom what is
Servant of fate or fate for a servant, (Hoary…Hoary…)
You see what you see, you see seldom what is.

(Hoary… Hoary…) Servant of fate, Oh…’

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‘The Eyes of Fate’ by Robin Williamson, appeared on the second Incredible String Band album entitled, ‘5000 Spirits’.