Rosy Cole

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Rosy Cole was born and educated in the Shires of England. Her writing career started in her teens. Four apprentice works eventually led to publication of two novels. Life intervened, but she returned to authorship in 2004. She has worked as a Press Officer and Publisher's Reader and is a member of the Society of Authors. Among widespread interests, she lists history, opera, musicals, jazz, the arts, drawing and painting, gemmology, homoeopathy and alternative therapies. Theology also is an abiding interest. As a singer, she's performed alongside many renowned musicians and has run a music agency which specialised in themed 'words-and-music' programmes, bringing her two greatest passions together. Rosy's first book of poetry, THE TWAIN, Poems of Earth and Ether, was published in April 2012, National Poetry Month, and two other collections are in preparation. As well as the First and Second Books in the Berkeley Series, she has written several other historical titles and one of literary fiction. She is currently working on the Third Book in the Berkeley Series. All her books are now published under the New Eve imprint. Rosy lives in West Sussex with her son, Chris, and her Springador, Jack, who keeps a firm paw on the work-and-walkies schedule!

The Intuitive Art of Wooing Nature

 

Healing is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature. W H Auden

 

It could be said that the industrial/agricultural revolution which lurched into motion in the late 18th century at the time the Berkeley Series begins, is still an experiment in progress. Some might argue that for all our know-how and technological advance, mankind, on the whole, has gained little in terms of personal satisfaction and inner content.

Whilst the Enlightenment was hauling the western world from a medieval mindset, configured by religious superstition, with all its inbred lore, droves of artisans and commoners flocked into the spreading cities in search of work and became trapped in an even more degrading brand of poverty, their privations the result of prolonged wars, failed crops and land enclosures. Their contact (and their contract) with the earth swiftly diminished, along with the health-giving properties of daily, often thoughtless, interaction with nature.

It's easy for us to raise a brow at the possets and potions of yore and exult in the leaps and bounds of progress, but much of modern day drug therapy is based on synthetic versions of naturally-occurring elements which our ancestors knew how to exploit.

All things must come to the soul from its roots, from where it is planted. Saint Teresa of Avila

 


 

Historical theories held that the environment in which you found yourself, particularly when it was your native one, held all the components needed for well-being. The kind of food that land supported was the most vital for sustenance. Creation was seen as a whole, the human organism not separate from it, but composed, in characteristic permutations, of the same biochemical constituents. Nature, they concluded, supplies close to the source of need. Arnica, well-known for healing strains, bruises and physical trauma, is the mountain tobacco plant, found on rocky altitudes where climbers venture. Burdock grows in the vicinity of nettle patches and the rubbed juice of the leaf upon nettle stings works wonders, as I well recall from childhood. Nettles themselves are rich in nutrients and are a specific for irritated skin and the stinging of cystitis. There is a clue in its Latin name, urtica urens. The skin condition, urticaria, caused by external irritants, is even more likely to be brought on by a (prolonged) psychological state of being nettled!

John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper, the herbalists of the Tudor and Jacobean ages, were supremely methodical in their approach to recording the properties and virtues of plants. Where they thrive, in what climate, in what soil, in what months of the year they flower, is some indication of the human states they best address and whether the petals, leaves, berries or roots should be used. Colour is important. Reds and greens are associated with the life force. They are the colours of the (edible) hawthorn, or crataegus, a gentle heart stimulant and pulse regulator. Celandine, or chelidonium, was used for afflictions of the gall bladder, its bright yellow a clue to its suitability for jaundice-inducing afflictions.

 

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There is also the 'doctrine of signatures' which maintains that the plant, or its useful part, actually resembles the organs, or disease, it is designed to treat. These were branded accordingly. Lungwort, for instance, for pulmonary infections, snakeroot as an antidote to venom. The botanist and herbalist, Richard Coles, writing in the mid-17th century, observed that walnuts were good for head ailments and it is no coincidence that they resemble the brain. Heartsease, the wild pansy, a specific for the lovelorn and grieving, as well as its smiling countenance, has leaves that describe a perfect heart and is believed to be useful in many illnesses associated with that region. So also foxglove (digitailis) long used in allopathic medication for strengthening the cockles of the heart! The fennel bulb is a classic example of food for heart health since it's shape so well describes that organ and its arteries.

 

 

You see, they didn't need to remember to take their manufactured vitamins and bioflavonoids which our consumption of de-natured foods seems to warrant. They worked long hours outdoors for their vitamin D. They ate local grains and honey, drank real ale out in the fields with their bread and cheese, milk from the cows and goats pastured on their land or the common, eggs from their own or their neighbour's patch. They chopped down oaks for Drake's or Nelson's navy and absorbed enough quercetin for their needs. They picked their elderberries, blackberries, wild strawberries, bilberries, rosehips, nuts, from the hedgerows. It was free food, not battery-grown crops, and had travelled none of the 'food miles' that necessitate chemical processing to keep them presentable. Even brushing against such plants as deadly nightshade (belladonna) and poison ivy (rhus tox) could confer salutary benefits.

 


 

All this requires imagination to a 21st century perspective, but to become steeped in their way of thinking throws open doors to a clearer understanding of our existence on this planet and the integrity of God's providence. When the mist begins to dissolve, it's like grasping a whole new language and poses the question whether the obfuscation is really ours, driven by the greed and hubris of our culture.

All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud, you have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. Ralph Waldo Emerson

A colossal industry has grown up around drug and dietary supplements in many forms, creating a dependency within the economy itself, thus leasing our destiny to outside factors which are no respecter of persons. Whilst not for a moment wanting to dis some of the quantum leaps in medical science, I happen to believe that the Western world would be a lot healthier and holier (more whole) for some self-determination and the forsaking of psychological dependence on others. Consider this, even supposing all prescribed drug trials to be scrupulously rigorous and objective, no one can forecast accurately how a patient will be affected. A doctor's understanding is still almost wholly formed from anecdotal evidence. Sometimes they admit they don't really understand how and why a drug works. All such drugs are heavy-handed in their effects with the risk of negative reactions, seen and unseen.

 

 

It's true there was in the past no regulation. But there do seem to have been prescribed procedures along with warnings about overdosing. However, homeopathy, a branch of medicine which has interested me for many years, is a pharmacological discipline which in application is safe and non-invasive. One random example at a superficial level is that of Silicea (silica) which, taken in the appropriate potency, in drop or small tablet form, has the power to remove splinters all by itself. The same substances are used in an entirely different way to herbalism and remedies will not necessarily agree. (More of this anon.) The philosophy is profound. If the practice and awesome rationale behind it were grasped, it would change the cosmos. But retweet the British Homeopathic Association on Twitter and you'll find yourself spammed by a barrage of aggressive bots (at least until recently, before the clean-up campaign.) I wonder why?

 

 

We have gone out on a limb and belittled our roots. Medicine has been as much the subject of fashion as designer clothes. But in the last decade or two, we've begun to examine the wisdom refined by our ancestors which spanned many centuries with little modification and goes back to the civilisations of Greece and Rome, to Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder. The shrinking globe has also helped us align with Eastern cultures holding to the concept of food as medicine.

Such is the audacity of man, that he hath learned to counterfeit Nature, yea, and is so bold as to challenge her in her work. Pliny, the Elder.

Enlightenment can sometimes be a moving beam and a narrow shaft.

As the opening line of L P Hartley's compelling novel, The Go-Between, states: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

 

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Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2014 & 2012

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
And the traveler hopes: let me be far from any physician.
Saturday, 30 August 2014 04:29
Katherine Gregor
Hear! Hear!
Saturday, 30 August 2014 10:24
Rosy Cole
Yes, indeed. But the point about your native turf also holds good for any you adopt, or spend significant amounts of time on. Envi... Read More
Sunday, 31 August 2014 11:34
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Getting Lucky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

El Springador chews on the theme of chance, not without a whiff of scentiment.

 

Say 'Lucky' to me and I think of that woolly pooch who used to star in the More Than Insurance adverts. He had a nose for hot water, a regular rappaw with disaster, but always ended up saving his bacon by the skin of his canines.

Take the time they left him in a parked car. This Bichon went strutting by on the sidewalk, all done up like a dog's dinner with her Bruno Magli doggy bag. He went mental, nearly died of clawstrophobia. Imagine it! 6.38 mm of auto glass between him and the groves of hymen. Before he could get his brain in gear, the brakes were off and the vehicle was coasting down the hill at a great rate of knots, slipping through gaps in the traffic and miraculously arriving at the front door of its own kennel. Now I don't call that lucky in the cherche la femme stakes, but the tail does bear the serendipitous ending Lucky was famed for. If only his owners had realised, they needn't have paid all those premiums! More Than made gravy out of him and no misteak.

Lucky was given to biting off more than he could chew. That's something I don't do. Won't have any truck with leaving good food in the dish, or anywhere it happens to be making slow progress between the fridge and someone's plate. Don't like to see it hanging around all neglected. It's just not meant. Herself never needs to coax me to finish my food, they'd be glad of that at the RSPCA. It goes to a better home, believe me. If anything's going to the dogs, it's not my supper. Or hers.

Of course, when you're as handsome as I am, you get lucky quite a lot. The big blonde girls are a pushover. Well, no, not exactly, they roll over all by themselves. Whatever they're into Retrieving, take it from me, it's not their dognity.

But there was one occasion when Cupid's bow struck. We were walking along this grassy path between a wood and a field of wheat when I spotted in the distance a young chocolate Lab. Within moments, she spotted me and we abbreviated the distance between us at lightning speed. (Not for nothing am I nicknamed Thunderpaws!)

Usually, I'm a cool sort of guy, but she had such melting eyes, I was nearly as smitten as she was. I sniffed the ground underpaw. Couldn't tell whether her perfume was Ted Lapitup, Dogsession, or Havitoff Cologne, but it went straight to my head. Good thing the wheat was high and ripe. With one accord, we galumphed into the golden tide at the deep end, so to speak, and eventually came up for air, all smiles. There was no 'shunning the Maker's cordial visage like an adversity', I can tell you. Emily Dogginson wuz wrong.

Sadly, the two of us got called away, but we kept glancing over our shoulder. She was about three hundred yards away, when, next thing I knew, she took to her heels and came sprinting towards me. It was straight out of Gone With The Wind. I just had to say goodbye, she said. A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.You were tops. I wuz It!

Well, I had to explain, the fates were against us. I could hear the bass rumble of suppertime and had to head home. Never say I don't put duty before pleasure. It turned out to be salmon fishcakes for seconds that day.

Now that's what I really call a Lucky Dog!

 

Jack, the dog who keeps track of the plot

 

RIP Benson, aka Lucky.

Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2011

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A Sort of Mental Squint

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Some reflections on the writing life from the great and the good (especially for those who feel discouraged right now).

 

In America, only the successful writer is important, in France, all writers are important, in England, no writer is important, and in Australia, you have to explain what a writer is.

Geoffrey Cottrell

 

Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity

T S Eliot

 

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

 Ray Bradbury

 

All the information you need can be given in dialogue.

Elmore Leonard

 

Fiction is the truth inside the lie.

Stephen King

 

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.

 Orson Scott Card

 

Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty:at least if things are bad, then they appear bad with conviction.

Dylan Thomas

 

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.

Terry Pratchett

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

 

Anecdotes don’t make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.

Alice Munro

 

Everywhere I go I am asked if I think university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

Flannery O'Connor

 

Keep a diary, and one day it will keep you.

Mae West

 

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there in invisible ink and clamouring to become visible.

Vladimir Nabakov

 

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood, I'd type a little faster.

Isaac Asimov

 

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.

Ernest Hemingway

 

Publication – is the auction of the Mind of Man.

Emily Dickinson

 

The best style is the style you don't notice.

Somerset Maugham

 

There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.

Robert Graves

 

When you are describing

A shape or sound or tint:

Don't put the matter plainly,

But put it in a hint:

And learn to look at all things

With a sort of mental squint.

Lewis Carroll

 

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.

Truman Capote

 

When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.

Samuel Butler

 

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A bit of nostalgia - my first typewriter was one of these!

Recent Comments
Nicholas Mackey
A great bunch of quotations around the act of writing and all have the ring of truth about them. I particularly identify with the ... Read More
Saturday, 23 August 2014 13:18
Rosy Cole
As mentioned elsewhere, in those days, I did the first scribbled and cross-hatched draft(s)! in biro. The sound of typewriter keys... Read More
Monday, 25 August 2014 12:11
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2 Comments

Pax Aeterna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A story of St Clare of Assisi, friend of St Francis and founder of the Poor Clares

 

I hear them, wave upon wave, mounted upon terrified steeds, poor abused beasts who have no Francis to calm them. I hear the clash of steel, the primal screams and cries, the whinnying, the shuddering clack of wood upon wood and stone. Francis raised these walls with his own bare hands until they were chafed sore and bleeding, so eager was he to protect us from the barbarian at the gate. Outside, the meeker Guelphs, defenders of His Holiness, the Pope, are pitted against the mighty Ghibellines of the Roman Empire who have enlisted hordes of bloodthirsty Saracens to strengthen their arm. How easily the world, in the folly of its pride, rushes lemming-like to perdition!

As I lay on my narrow pallet, in the frigid heat of fever, my mind clamours for peace, but hope begins to seep from my heart. I mutter the Rosary in broken phrases, almost non-believing. Holy Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Is this how it all ends? In defeat? My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

A vision shimmers on the wall. I see armies swarming into the valley, thousands strong, to let loose their stinging assault upon this fortified city, mindless, and with a single purpose. The axe is laid to the root of the tree. Will the earth beneath us hold out against the apocalypse? Surely the Lord will prove his mettle.

A thin shaft of light is falling obliquely on austere slab. It dilates with promise, bathes the dust motes in praeternatural gold and proposes peace. Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world. No sooner is the notion formed than a cloud shrouds it. The sun is a fickle mentor. Yet he who made the sun...

A shifting presence bends my ear. There is an angel in the wings of these crowding shadows, two, several. Fear not, I bring you... What? What do you bring? Oh, speak! Francis, is it you? Your spirit is never far from us. Plead with the Saviour, I beg you! Intercede for us in our frailty!

I remember my first sight of him that day we strolled in the market place, my cousin, Pacifica, and I. It was the Friday before Palm Sunday, a day of Sorrowful Mysteries, but a day of joy and liberation for me. We wandered among the vendors and purchasers of oil, lemons, basil and oregano, the smell of tanned leather wafting us, dogs and chasing children winding about our path. In Assisi, animals exude a special vitality and have the eyes of creatures whose inner souls contemplate paradise.

"Chiara, who is that man so oddly attired in crude sackcloth that he compels an audience?" she demanded.

"It is certainly not on account of his clothes or his stature!"

"I want to know what he's saying."

We latched on to the gathering of rapt citizens around him, cut short in their busyness by his resonant tones, the way his blue eyes mirrored the sky as he sought inspiration there. He spoke at once with the tongue of men and angels, telling how he'd abandoned wealth to follow in the footsteps of Christ. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He had chosen poverty, he said, to be at one with the Lord, the mendicant, the leper, the outcast, the dregs of the Commune. Now he applied himself to cultivating his vegetable plot, caring for animals and tending the sick and maimed. An ascetic life, but no mere subsistence. A banquet for allcomers. He had learned to lean on an unfailing Providence. If the Second Coming should take him unawares, the Lord would find him digging his garden, filling a manger with hay, or binding up the wounds of the afflicted.

His message was so cogent, it struck through my heart like a rapier. I became conscious of our fine merino and silks, how expensively we were shod. The raiment which had covered me in vainglory and was designed to attract the rich suitor my parents craved, suddenly became rags and tatters in my sight. How could I bear the destiny they had mapped out for me? How could I marry a man I did not care for, when the countenance of this poor anchorite was emblazoned with a love whose dimensions I should never comprehend?

In the dead of night, I put on my cloak, gathered up my skirts and, seizing a torch, made good my escape from the parental roof, never to return. Francis and his friars welcomed me at the Portiuncola. There, in the chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli, I removed the fillet from my flowing locks which he cut off as though harvesting corn with a sickle. He then furnished me with a rough tunic, like his own, and a veil of the same fabric instead of a hood.

Divested of opulence, I vowed that henceforward Jesus should be my only Spouse.

All that was long ago, when Francis was in his prime. In the intervening years, with hard work, courage and his  dedicated aid, we have established an Order of Poor Clares here at the Convent of San Damiano. It is radical and seeks to unfold the privilege of poverty under the noses of those noble Umbrians who take wealth for granted and seek to perpetuate its tyranny.

I think it took its toll on our dear Brother. He seemed frequently to ail, but never complained. The radiance of purpose never quite forsook him. I knew he was a saint and needed not the unction of Rome when the Five Wounds appeared on his hands. They bled and would not heal, but neither did they fester. Mortality had its way, but not corruption.

Hark! What is that? Dear God! The felling of Jericho! Our walls are breached! Our cloisters are ransacked by jackbooted infidels who will revel in their pleasure with innocent virgins. They are crying out in terror, these children, cowering in corners, behind doors. I am weak, my breath forsakes me. I raise myself, panting wildly, and instruct the older women to take up the silver and ivory Monstrance which bears the blessed wafer, the beloved Body of Christ, and raise it high before the enemy. Beseeching the Almighty from the depths of distress, I fall prostrate on cold stone.

"Behold, my Lord, is it possible You want to deliver into the hands of pagans Your defenceless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for You? I pray You, Lord, protect these Your handmaids whom I cannot now save by myself."

By a miracle, I hear with such clarity the precious voice of a child. "I will always protect you."

"My Lord," I venture, "if it is Your wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Your love."

"There will be many trials, but I will always defend it."

I rub my eyes. It is hard to believe the scene before us. These marauding troops are falling under a spell. They throw down their bludgeons and bows, their swords and sabres, and turning tail, seethe back over the hill like a colony of ants possessed. Hell is defeated. They are gone!

The echoes die away. The birds erupt into sweeter song, the flowers lift up their heads with sentient colour, and I am restored once more. What was it all about, the Shadow of Death?

Listen! ...The hills are awash with the sound of silence, older than time. I finger the Pax Cross on my breast, symbol of beloved Assisi.

This is the Peace of Heaven, do not doubt it.

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Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2009

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Such a vivid description, Rosy.
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 08:25
Rosy Cole
Thank you, Katia. I suspect that faith and perception were quite different in those days and even mundane reality starker, more bl... Read More
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 15:56
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Latest Comments

Rosy Cole Happy Birthday, Will Shakespeare
23 April 2018
I believe his name originally was spelled without the first E. Ah, the days before the iniquity that...
Stephen Evans Be Secret and Exult
15 April 2018
Then I shall be secret and exult
Monika Schott Stop for a minute, or a week
15 April 2018
So true, Rosy. I can really feel that, being 'hustled and swept away into a storyline that doesn't b...
Rosy Cole Stop for a minute, or a week
15 April 2018
A life-affirming post, Moni, so vibrant, and its wisdom was never more needed. The world is desperat...
Rosy Cole Be Secret and Exult
15 April 2018
Steve, I'm not sure that either of us has fully understood this badly crafted poem, at least from th...

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