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Urthona masthead

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!

 

CURRENT ISSUE 32 – Goddesses East and West.

The image of an all powerful goddess of nature is one of the most prevalent religious images of our times. In this issue we explore how the goddess has much to offer Buddhists and others, and how she represents the image of a sacred, interconnected cosmos which is the antidote to the materialism of our age. Including: 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

Half a mile along the high street  I make it to what is marked on the map as the peak of the village, and the county. The road is lined to one side by a row of council houses, and to my surprise I find that instead of some kind of notice, or celebration of its exalted height, the house at the highest point of the hill is selling vegetables. Clearly this is the highest vegetable stall in Cambridgeshire, possibly the highest one of Southern England. A couple walk past with a dog and confirm that yes this is the highest point, they seem quite proud of the fact, but are apparently not aware of the exalted status of their fruit and veg stall… There is a shower, then sun, and the road gleams, a very ordinary road, in an out of the way village, but the air is warmly hazy and the sultry light exhilarating:

Chishill 7

On top of the world – the summit of Chishill Village…

Just down the road, a scruffy oak in a field must be the most evevated tree in the county…

Chishill 6

Then a farm, with a very elegant manor house, and a sprawling inelegant set of farm buildings next door.

Chishill 2

But the bridle path sweeps past the farm away into the wide, rolling cornlands of Essex, the air has a peculiar heavy softness to it, blurring outlines on the horizon, and making it seem as if you could walk forever and get nowhere…

Chishill 9

 

Chishill 4

The road goes ever on and on, away from the plains, into the South Country… I follow as far as the church of the next village Chrishall, which, some distance from the village, nestles its back against a great oak wood, just visible in the shot above on the left. The rain has really set in now, I lean on the wooden gate of the church yard, absorb the solitude of the spot, and look out over the misted valley, with the tarnished gold colours of stubbled fields melting into the soft, aromatic air…

Chishill 1

 

 

 

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 ramble in South Cambs

A ramble in South Cambs

 

Coton, pronounced with the first 0 long as in Seb Coe, is the nearest village to  Cambridge on the west side. Beyond the village wide, lazy cornfields open out, glowing in the morning  heat at this sultry end of July.

After a mile or so a small wood closes in:

 

Coton Lane crop

amber shades

frettings of tarnished brass

tunnel to the arch of gold

Down the hill to Comberton, a cottage looks over the pond, with a wonderfully irregular chimney, a charming bow in the roof, and the traditional local plaster walls and small, scruffy beige clay tiles. It was the victorians who banished irregularity in architecture, which up until then had been part of all human constructions from grand temples to hovels. To fake it is the most terrible dishonesty, it must arise from crafts-people using hand powered tools.

Comberton close

Comberton Pond

On to Toft, the name is from an old Norse word meaning homestead. And Comberton is place of the Cymru i.e. Welsh men, so no Anglo Saxons in these parts… Toft is prized for its meadows. I spotted this tiny paddock, a raffish demesne of thorn bushes, sapling ash trees and of course ragwort, with great delight. A place of adventures and hiding places if you are under ten, to be cherished and protected. And nearby a tiny green lane, running off towards the centre of the village, what does the name mean?

A meadow in Toft

A Toft Lane

Wider meadows beyond the village, with clumps of trees and scrub, a little bit like the open expanses of rough common land before the enclosures, stretching to the horizon, in a vernacular tapestry  of hillock, grove, pool and pasture, as so memorably evoked by John Clare….

A toft meadows

Gate to nowhere

Fences fallen

Open pasture

Calls the soul…

 

 

 

 

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

Berkshire Wood 3

amber shades –

in a hidden clearing

young firs muster

New Collection from Buddhist Poet

Review SolitudeFrontCoverThe Solitude of Small Doors, Ananda (Stephen Parr)

Wolf at the Door, Bristol 2015, £11.52, pb, 250 pp

(To order go to Lulu.com and search for Stephen Parr

Reviewed by Ratnagarbha

Ananda’s major new collection, The Solitude of Small Doors has a distilled reflectiveness about it. We get the feeling that this is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection, observation and wrangling with the intractibles of this precious, confusing all to brief event we call human life. But human life, in Ananda’s universe, is always reflected and refracted through things, things vividly alive that speak to the poet, each in its own idiosyncratic voice. The kind of things you find in dank back yards:

ropes that parted like rotting

asparagus at the lightest touch.

(‘Sudden Pianos’) Continue reading