New Post – striking mythic drawings based on ancient slavic beliefs

Rarog the Divine Falcon

Rarog the divine Falcon

We feature the fascinating mythic art work of Marek Hapon based on the ancient slavic beliefs of his pagan ancestors. 

“My first contact with ancient Slavic beliefs occurred while spending summers at my grandmother’s farm in eastern Poland. It was there that I discovered the world of supernatural beings — some frightening and others wondrous. One such scary demon was the Licho…. ”

Marek Hapon Drawings

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Sci Fi and Fantasy issue – call for ideas!

Dark MOON
2018 ISSUE OF URTHONA ON THE THEME OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
Please let us know if you have any thoughts about a Buddhist perspective on this kind of literature, or any author recommendations – apart from the obvious ones.
     Science Fiction and Fantasy allow unfettered licence to the imagination. This can be liberating but also it has drawbacks. Many books in these genres lack emotional depth, and get lost in the details of building an alternative world or worlds. On the other hand there is the opportunity to deal directly with universal archetypal themes – heroism, betrayal, the quest for truth and beauty, the unmasking of comfortable illusions of self and world – that are not easily dealt with directly in genres that are tethered to what we think of as ‘realism’. So we want to seek out the best writing there is in this area, particularly from contemporary authors, and ask what it has to offer spiritual seekers in the 21st century.
     It has been quite a learning curve for me looking into this area as I have not explored it since I was a teenager. So far as I can see there is a great deal of very fine recent science fiction out there. I have enjoyed reading Venor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, Dan Simmons The Hyperion Cantos (a sci-fi version of the Canterbury Tales) and Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station.
     However the fantasy genre seems to be quite moribund to me! It has been taken over by the Grim-Dark Game of Thrones type of fantasy almost completely it seems. There are a few  rather whimsical English fantasy books from the last few decades such as those by William Horwood, but that it is it apart from Phillip Pullman – we have covered him in issue 19 but may return to him in this or a future issue.
     So do let me know if you feel I have missed out on any other fantasy authors after Lewis and Tolkien who have moral and imaginative integrity, or if you have any science fiction recommendations that we might have missed.
     I’m aware of the book ‘Dharma of Demon’s and Dragons’ on a Buddhist approach to this literature, which is useful if a bit superficial in my view, and we will build on what Loy did there. 

 

Our plans so far include a piece on the novelist Nicola Barker, hopefully an interview with Christopher Priest, something on ‘The inklings – Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, something on Phillip K Dick, and possibly to reprint an interview with LeGuin we did about 15 years ago. Movie wise we have a piece on some classic alien encounter movies such as ‘forbidden planet’, and a review of the recent release ‘Arrival’. We would of course like to cover the seminal work of spiritual / cosmic science fiction: Olaf Stapleton’s ‘Star-maker’.

A walk in the Malverns

A walk in the Malverns

It was a sultry summer day, not very hot, but humid. There was a decadent end of summer feel even though it was only towards the end of July. I decided that August would be a herald of autumn rather than a glorious finish to the season, and so it was necessary to make the best of it, dress light and step out with determination along the languid maze of lanes that thread the countryside to the west of the great spine of the Malverns. Beyond that tawny ridge to the east I knew there are motorways, cities and the hundred million distractions of modern life. But here, west of that sheltering spine, just silence apart from what Heaney so memorably called ‘the distant gargling of tractors’. On the verges the thresh of bleached grasses is soaked in dew, there is a sense of rot about to happen, but for now the air is damp but cool and the lanes are empty and inviting. The sky is a mix of clouds and clarity. Sometimes for half an hour it appears to be going to cloud up completely and looks ominous, but the next moment the vapours dissolve and the sky goddess is back in her glory…

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Castle Hill at dusk

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The Castle Hill area of Cambridge is almost certainly the oldest continuously inhabited part of the city – it is here that the Roman fort was established in the first century CE. Perhaps this is why the whole area, which is still a tangle of streets and alleyways, once you leave the wide ring road that snakes through it, has a sense of strangeness and dislocation. You are very close to the hyper-busy tourist areas of the colleges and shops, but there is a sense of being threaded into the density of the past, the whole area has a slightly eerie quietly brooding atmosphere that clogs the arteries of one’s immediate concerns…. Continue reading

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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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

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