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URTHONA Buddhist arts magazine covers all aspects of contemporary and traditional arts from a Western Buddhist perspective. It is published annually in a high quality, 68 page,  glossy magazine format, and is beautifully designed. This site contains selected essays – see page listings to right, and editor’s blog – scroll down past info.

URTHONA MASTERCurrent issue: Goddesses east and west. Anne Baring on the goddess image. Stunning photographs of Tibet by Mariisa Roth. Ted Hughes and the goddess by Dhivan Thomas Jones. Further details in URTHONA SHOP

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This site contains selected essays and the editor’s blog. See page listings to right.

Urthona – the landscape: Our guardian spirits are the romantic and revolutionary writers of early 19th century London – Blake, Hazlitt and Coleridge – and the Zen poets of Japan who were similarly drawn to the open, outer reaches of mind and culture.  Our founding inspiration came from the Western Buddhist teacher Sangharakshita. More about our vision in ABOUT URTHONA above.

Scroll down this page for URTHONA editor’s blog: in depth and  insightful commentary on art, life and culture.

For shorter, more personal posts on art, life and everything see editor’s Facebook Page – like or become friends!

 

 

Mist and relics on Southampton Water

Mist and relics on Southampton Water

Woke to find a blank impassive wall of fog, plaster board grey, utterly featureless, where there would normally be a view of the estuary from my father’s back garden. Every few minutes the fog horn would let out its erie drone, to be absorbed immediately by the blanketing silence.

Two hours later and the first faint shapes of the oil refinery terminal at the seaward end of the estuary were beginning to appear. The grain of pragmatic reality condensing out of the ether…

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A local bus navigates its way cautiously through the muffled suburbs, but by the time I reach Southampton town centre, brilliant sunshine has broken through. Town Quay, the waterfront nearest to the lower gate of the old city, was once a fashionable promenade. Jane Austen walked here , and one could gaze over to the New Forest on the further shore. Today, there is a large carpark between you and the water. But the ferry she took with her family to visit some friends in the fishing village of Hythe, by a miracle still runs. Before embarking I take in the few remains of the old city. A few broken bits of wall, a large stone warehouse, now used as a bar, and the harbour master’s house, glowing in the low winter sun.

 

Up Bugle Street is Southampton’s oldest pub, the Duke of Wellington, where my father’s folk club used to meet, before a modernising landlord chased them off into the suburbs.

 

Very sadly the Hythe Ferry, remembered vividly from my childhood, is under threat. In my view their first mistake was to replace about twenty years ago, the wonderful old Hotspur ferry boats, veterans of the Dunkirk evacuation, with a soul less catamaran, all steel decks and no funnel.

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However, from the deck I spot an old tugboat, apparently still in use, which looks very similar to the ferry boats I remember from the seventies:

 

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As we cross the sun is setting over the forest in shades of glowing amber…

The ferry lands at the Victorian pier. It is a quarter of a mile long, and an electric train, almost as old as the pier itself runs up and down it. The rhythmic rattle and clatter of its regular journeys was one of the comforting sounds of my childhood, especially as I lay in bed on light summer evenings. Very sad to think that it might fall silent…

 

A last view of the pier as the sun sets; my own past, and times before I existed seeming equally real in the fading light…

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In Search of Nine Wells

In Search of Nine Wells

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A day of sharp westerlies and burnished hedgerows…

There is a local beauty spot just next to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambs, called Nine Wells. Here in a small wood several springs rise from a chalk aquifer and wind their way through hidden water-courses amongst beech trees and scrub. A magical place, but these days very close indeed to ‘civilisation’ – an entire city of gleaming bio-tech complexes is being built on its doorstep.

However, there are two other woods called Nine Wells in South Cambridgeshire. One assumes it must be a very ancient name for a wood with several springs, perhaps sacred to a local goddess. So on a cold bright Friday morning in November I set off by bike for the Nine Wells wood near Whittlesford. Continue reading

Ascent! A walk to the highest point in Cambridgeshire

Ascent! A walk to the highest point in Cambridgeshire

A morning walk on the borders of Cambridgeshire and Essex, shimmering fine rain, heavy cloud and bursts of sun. A sultry, thickened end of summer day. The village of Great Chishill is marked on the OS map as being 479 feet above sea level, giving its fortunate residents expansive views over a land of sprawling cornfields and caucuses of dark woods clumped on the hill tops. To the north the land drops sharply away to the plains of central Cambridgeshire, to the south the more  wooded, gently bounding lands of north Essex.

Next to the church the road drops away down to the plains, with cottages on each side, a little bit like Gold Hill, Shaftesbury:

Chishill 8

Continue reading

Two Psychogeography Podcasts

Werner Herzog Talks about nature, art, and filmmaking. This has got to be podcast of the year. His advice to budding filmmakers read, read, read great literature. The book he wants to highlight: JA Baker’s great classic of English nature writing The Peregrine. Herzog finds here writing of a calibre that has not appeared since the short stories of Conrad – truthfulness, passion and ecstasy as the author seeks to become one with the bird he is tracking over the woods and fields of Essex.

Herzog on The Peregrine

Robert Harrison of KCSU Stamford, has an occasional and highly erudite podcast covering all aspects of the humanities, in this episode he talks with Professor Jean Marie Apostolides about Guy Debord, situationism, and psychogeography. In an earlier episode he goes into more detail about The Peregrine with Andrea Nightingale.

Harrison on Psychogeography

A Berkshire Wood in Spring

The Berkshire Downs, not open country but deep woodland scaling the hillside. Just after rain, wandering through the heavy feast of rain soaked boughs, green shadows dripping all around me, festering silence, rich but a little sinister. Solitary dog walkers loom out of the stillness, a black labrador bounds up, then disappears into the resiny gloom beyond the gravel ride. There are adolescent Wellington firs, splayed at the base like rainforest trees, large ferns and parties of very young firs clustered at the edge of glades, eager for their share of the light. I lose myself in the rich resiny silence, an hour’s walk seems like a lifetime of tramping, the wood  goes on spreading upwards, there are freaks of golden light beyond the thickest trees in the distance, but this suggests the top of the hill not the end of the wood. There is no discernible end. Like Buddha saying that there is no discernible end to time or matter, so long as one continues to believe in them.

Berkshire Wood 1

gate half open

the gold eaves of the wood

beckon inwards Continue reading