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kali1e

WORD OF EARTH ( “geo- logos”) – a dream stream.

(from “RECITATION” (3)

Measureless are the layering of voices stratifying the night. A geology of language. A wisdom of the earth. A voice of weight. A voice of remembering. Mutterings over herbs and hunted, mutterings around campfires, incoherant weepings in empty spaces, rocking, rocking inconsolable.
The few
who have pushed through,
who have passed to the other side of the sky,
where the stars walk
on two legs, like people,
in brightnesss,
in brightness.
They find the rhythmic chants spinning out of the web along its thin, strong lines, its reliable patterns, its junctures. They weave and weave in and out of song, free to find and to lose form, to remember and to forget, but always to return to the axis, climbing their own spine-tree just for the view, just for the view.
In the dark,
snakes and daggers.
The hungry fingers, the hungry eyes.
To be sent out
and not to return home
empty-handed.
To never be bereft again, never that spun hollowness where power pulls to the edges and breathes itself away in a silence more devastating than sobs.
Click, clack,
the needles go.
Snip, snap
the shears.
She gathers up,
she gathers in,
she counts the knots,
she raises the winds.
She claps her hands and waves boil. The black cat weaves between her calves, purring. Patter, patter on the wet sand. The strings move deft between cold fingertips. A catching of moments. They are so intrigued, so curious like cats, like moths, these spirits clamber and elbow in to see more. Sticky wisdom traps them as flies. Their syllables mirrored and pronounced, taken from thin lips, pointed tongues, and turned, turned and shaped, malleable soul breath mingled to free the dreaming souls of drowned sailors anchored in the black, black starless deep.
They float and turn slowly.
Increments of light
bounce around empty eye sockets.
Teeth shed like wheat,
like barley, nicotine-stained.
Worn thin
and grazed by little fishes,
little fishes,
scoured by starfish,
bored by worms.
They rise and feel the release of water’s weight. They rise and rise, blow and shatter to powder, diatom dust. Turned song for whales, cathedrals of breathing space.
Oceans : just unfamiliar skies.
Skies : just uncharted oceans.
Skiff and wherry,
stars tacking dimensional tides,
solar winds,
trawling the chants,
the glimmer scale words,
the protection mantras, the seeds, the forms, the road home.

——

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I have just recently turned my attention back to a project called (at the moment) “Recitation of the Names of Night ( or Darkness)”, pulling together black and white graphics and words to create an art book project. How far it will get, who knows…..
These received texts will be interspersed amongst images, some as staightforward text, some as worked and layered artworks. ( “received” as in: come out of the blue, unbidden, uncensored, unformed, a fleeting landscape of idea cuaght from a speeding moment)…

RECITATION (1)

The Topography of Night

The topography of Night
The slopes of darkness
Its pools, its shadows,
Its steep contours, its melodies,
Its mists and clouds.
To map its creatures
To collate its vocabulary
To define with certainty
Its presence and its absence.
To narrate its brilliance,
Its luminous resonant self,
Its fear-filled halls,
Its echoing steps, its
Vague promises, its
Certain threats,
Its embraces, its charms,
Its crevices, its lascivious
Gestures, its names,
Its names,
Its names.

—-

Epidermis

She moves,
Ligament and skin
Extending, taughtening,
Flex, reflex, a brushing
Of skin on skin.
Dark matter, dark mother,
Between all things,
Behind and within,
Void and immanent,
An unexpected punchline
Ghosting us,
Rapidly, inevitably,
Collapsing neat equations,
Smug cosmologies.
The sound of silk sliding
On silk, tongue across lips.

—-

Vessel

A bowl, a cup. A simple thing echoing the two hands together. A nutritious function. The hands, the skull, the sky. Clay pressed to hold emptiness and fullness. Progenitor, act of creation. Made of clay, pinches of dust kissed, mated, caressed, formed. Fingertips pressing warm cavities, pliant, obedient, holding still, spun, stroked, admitted, allowed. The scent of iron and sweat and earth.

—–

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Atom – Heart – Mother
(Third object of transcendence).

Dark moon.
There is nothing to measure
The passing or staying of time.

A pewter plate, leaden glow heaviness
Is upon me,
Upon which ants crawl –
An incessant hunt
For meaning’s addictive
sweet crumbs.

No silver sickle,
No thin cold sharp edge to sever
Glutinous swags of thought.

Tedious, this circularity,
This inability to dive
Beyond the debris.

No owls,
No bats outside.
All opposition slain
To the blundering flight of our own
Monochromatic, monotheistic,
Magnificently naive self-appointment
As pinnacle and paragon.
The Mysteries and miracles,
Only annoying flies bouncing off
Dirty panes of glass.
The backroom boys of nightmare,
Gagged and emasculated
Now that we load
The silver bullets of rationality.
Stallions and nightmares, wild kelpies
That would drag us screaming
Below the dark, still, loch waters,
Consigned to flickering square screens.
Insanity banished,
The moths of eternity
Shattered, spiralling torches,
The quenchless fire of plutonium:
Endless yuga
Of sudden and slow, bright death.

Dark moon.
Nothing to see here.
Stars hidden
Awaiting Great Time,
O Mother of Darkness.

Clouds part a clearing,
A darker nothing beyond grey nothing.
A pause.

Travel down peripheral paths, abandoned, webbed, forgotten.
Away from the echoing vestibules and cavities trawling feckless thought.
Rooted through the feet, an anchoring of sober light.
With breath,
A river of acquiescence
Gravitates down
To our hidden heart,
soil,
solid,
matter,
mother.

A silver sewing,
A phosphorescent bond,
An electric blue tang
Of diving clarity.
An exhalation in the centre of stillness,
Stratigraphies of forgiveness,
Of forgetting, of remembering.

New wings spread
Flexed wide, descending
Upon the winds
Of interior light.
A song bursts upwards
That is a dance.

The three ways, the three channels,
The three poisons,
Become one tree
Vast and sheltering,
at once seed and fruit.
Branching senses interweave,
A galactic arch.
Subatomic tendrils reach sustenance,
abundance, belonging
And are cherished.

Sleep and the Sleeper
A moon in shadow
A silver tree ringing with light
A forest of stars.
Bitterness, a blessing
That wakes and warns.

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GODDESS OF GREAT TIME (Mahakali)

Time,
Great Time,
Not the small time that wriggles,
That evaporates, that divides,
Slows, quickens, dissolves matter,
Nor crumbles the certain little boundaries.
Not the time of long ago,
Nor the time of memory-
Not the rope and web
Or stories that buoy up why and why not.

Great Time,
that remains.
Great Time,
the horror and remorseless.
Great Time
where any silence
Would be excessive demonstration,
Where qualities, incoherent irrelevance.

From outside,
(that mistaken myth of outside),
It is a wall of annihilation
Void of edge and shade
A denial of everything.
Senseless, unable to be apprehended.

From inside
Great Time sustains itself in itself,
A round vowel of circular breath
With no flow nor any sound.
Before
and between name.
Before
and between space.
Before
and between desire.
Before
and between despair.

Looking for Great Time
Here or here,
Looking for its dark matter,
Looking for its dark space,
Looking for the reason, the cause,
The origin, the point of entry:
Weighing shadows, calibrating the edge.

Her necklace,
A string of heads, lolling, vacuous.
Take it as a clue, sir.
Great Time will deny the slyest philosopher,
The most particular investigation,
Will eat the reasons why,
Will collapse the measurement.

On the tip of that red tongue
Dancing, tingling,
Feeling without saying,
Lost ullulation, glossolalia,
Speaking in tongues, hanging,
Screaming.

Do not wish on yourself
The nightmare of never.
Do not break that fine, thin porcelain,
Genteel mind, translucent void.
Between, before, beyond.

Great Time:
Where you are not looking,
The smallest omission,
The inevitable victory
Of the insignificant.
Aeons and galaxies
Are its shadow,
Its laughter.

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MAHARATRI – Great Night

Continuing my exploration of the Mahavidyas, this piece tracks and picks out words, phrases and ideas from Danielou’s work. I don’t know how it will stand by itself for those not familiar with any of the imagery or symbolism, but for me it is acting as a trigger and an introduction to how both visuals and text might develop in the future.

Object of transcendence. Maha Ratri 1

1
Eternity, ten nights long
Five for the god,
Five for the goddess.
The power of Siva –
To know it, one word,
No other word were needed.

Ten objects:
The divine night, destiny mapped,
Destruction mirrored,
Fear revealed.
The power of time,
The last manacle of sky iron,
Melted, irrelevant in the bliss
Of our supreme nonexistence.

2
The state of deep sleep,
Our little dream, ocean’s drop
Of perfect quiescence,
Nothing remaining,
Not time acting on,
But time itself:
Absolute night.

Beyond the beyond,
Sleeper withdrawing
Into the power of time,
Itself.
Immensity,
A diadem of illusion:
Licks of lightning
Flickering
At the corners of the sea,
Surface, iridescent, unmoved.

This absolute night,
The night of destruction,
When things
That are not things,
When the objects
Of our philosophies,
When even the bare bones
Of is and now,
Slide and smudge
Decorating no longer
The resounding passageways
Of thought,
The geometries
Of measured edge.

For there is now one thing
That is the only thing,
A no thing,
A perfect surface
Curving to infinity,
Our lady
Of the spheres,
Resplendent emptiness.
The little light
That does nothing but divide,
Distend, distort,
And shatter into matter
Finally engulfed,
By the Giver.

Returning in the evening
All the birds nest in happiness,
All nestle to the welcome night,
Enfolded by calm.
All, all come to rest
Upon her lap-
Mother of Happiness,
Mother of Night.

( I shall step into the still,
mild darkness,
the rush of silent air,
fragrant after a day of rain.
Feel my purpose dissolve,
my need and reasons waver,
words and names becoming uncertain,
then soon submerged.
Passing clouds,
passing clouds).

3
Time
That tears asunder
All things,
Destroyer of worlds,
She herself
Is your dance.

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Moonlight through glass

Beginning of the New Year, according to some counts. Woken, as fairly normal, by roving,climbing, cats and whilst in the velvet struggle to regain sleep, caught a tumble of words on constellated subjects. An attempt to recover the drift hours later is usually unsatisfactory – but then dreams themselves are always so much more coherent before the linearity of recall.

The first unrolled from the title of a collection of poems I am getting ready to e-publish ( “won’t take long, start with something easy”…). The title, “Moonlight through glass” is itself taken from a small relief sculpture I made about thirty years ago : just words carved in relief upon reclaimed hardwood floor tiles from an old dance hall. The image is one that satisfies, redolent with silence, serenity, emptiness, peace. An ambiguity of completion and loss. Its partner is the image of “Moonlight on rooftops”. Somehow the epitome of melancholy to me.

Yesterday evening I was playing around with images for the cover of said, slim volume. Getting into the flow, I was revisiting a couple of colour prints, modifying them for a dramatic black and white. Happily, it turned into a potential project all of its own ( or at least so it seemed in the fever of creation). A sort of abstracted yantra meets medieval woodcut, chats with Blake on angels and ghosts, then nods at the engravings of Gustave Dore ( he with the appropriate accent), with a reminiscence of Book of Lambspring and alchemical doings. Possibly a way of illustrating words on the Mahavidya goddesses. Hence the circling of subjects, the orbit of words, that follows:

MOONLIGHT THROUGH GLASS

Moonlight through glass:

Solve et coagula

Dissolve and solidify.

Resting in silence

A vapour of thought

A mist of emotion

Twin mystery

( two of too many):

Light and orbit.

Something fast as infinity

Slows through a lens

Of liquid sand;

Something as unconcerned

And chaste, a satellite

Held gazing face to face,

A waltz of gravity.

Taking form, giving name, chasing thought.

Dance of equations, conjuration of stillness.

Simulation of solidity, (vibrating nothingness).

To give meaning,

To build a path in a pathless wasteland

(suddenly goals, suddenly distinctions)

Mirroring, reflecting, perhaps, the definition of our purpose.

Narcissus has become our jealous god

(echo lost, echo found).

Dancing round the fire,

Oh, we know that one’s name

That will spin gold for us

(though he will still trick us in the end).

And why, why, do we honour Prometheus,

That medler who ruined more than his own prospects,

Who brought down much more than fire upon us?

Too smart for your own good,

Answers too shiny-

Clear-cut, obvious, too self-serving,

Too monstrously elegant.

Ferment.

Closed system

Athanor.

One strong enough to withold,

To withstand all turmoil,

A roiling of opposites.

Not designed for madness

But madness is where we all must go.

The madness of too much,

The madness of not enough.

An incontinent ejaculation,

White noise, staining silence,

An endless slurry of love songs,

A loop of imprisonment.

Ferment.

The numbness of moonlight –

Passion stilled within the heart.

Whitened. Blackened. Consummated.

Brought forth.

Soot-faced puffers

Strainng to wriggle free.

Moonlight through glass:

The achievement,

The surrender,

The transcendence.

—–

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And not too dissimilar ( the metaphysics of stellar cosmogenesis, of electromagnetic emotions), words orbiting the bright imagery, the dark, powerful, inhumanly human goddesses, Ten Nights of Transcendent Darkness, Objects of Transcendent Wisdom, Mahavidya Goddesses. This one the aspect known as Tara ( Second Night of Hunger).

TARA: SECOND NIGHT OF HUNGER

Tara, Tara,

Hungry star,

Unquenchable yearning.

Infinite distance

Is the path to return by.

Light from the farthest edge

Wishing to return to your comforting blackness.

Consumed, conjoined, united,

Undifferentiated,

Possession of belonging,

Lines of gravitational force.

That which separates,

That which holds together,

And beyond all these,

The desire for so much more,

The desire for so much less.

——

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For the clearest, and certainly the most poetical and image-rich words, concerning the Mahavidyas I would recommend Alain Danielou’s great work “Hindu Polytheism” ( that majestic title now sadly pedestrianised to “The Myths and Gods of India” ).

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The Ten Mahavidyas

The mahavidyas, or “great wisdoms”, “wisdom goddesses”, or “Ten objects of Transcendent Wisdom” is a medieval Indian system of metaphysical thought that brings together aspects of goddess energy in a powerful and evocative manner. In certain aspects it falls outside the more familiar Hindu orthodoxy, whilst deepening and adding commentary to the esoteric traditions of the Himalayan region.

I first came across the Mahavidyas in my fourth year at the University of Edinburgh and was drawn to the powerful imagery- especially as presented in Alain Danielou’s “Hindu Polytheism”- so that I incorporated elements of symbolism in my sculpture projects. At the time I was using the image of the bowl a lot in my work and it seemed an ideal form to express the numinous within the familiar. A container of space, requiring emptiness to define itself, the bowl has often been employed as a metaphor for the polarity of existence.
Much more recently I was asked to make images representing each Mahavidya in the same way that I found symbolic forms for tree energies. It took a while to consider. It is one thing tuning into a tree energy and seeing how to visually freeze that unique energy dance, it is a different matter of scale to do the same to a powerful universal energy presence. Resolution came when I acknowledged that the Mahavidya energy patterns are transgender, transhuman, transspatial, transtemporal, transcultural entities. In other words, it was not necessary to get “permission” or authentication to begin this work. They do not belong to any one species or gender or time or theology, though their symbolic references will be culturally specific. I am possessed wholly by these energies as I am with the frequencies of the electro-magnetic spectrum. I do not need to achieve knowledge or understanding outside of myself. In fact they have a more permanent existence than what I consider to be my own personal reality.

MAHAKALI

Great Time
Time accumulating,
Licking
Laughing.
Disintegrates
your considerate sciences,
Your careful measured certainty.

Unfettered
Definitions cease.
Knowing Her
There is nothing else to know.

Beyond subatomic passion,
Endless rest, but awake.

Scurrilous,
Untramelled Reality,
Radiant darkness
Embedded, entangled,
Woven into solidity

Solid time
Still time
Waiting time.
Ungraspable, unavoidable

Warm red tongue
Licking your soul.
Warm lips clasping.

Atrocious vastness,
Contigious unity,
Invisible light
Revealed.

Exploding souls
Supernovae.

The image above is one of a series of prints I made of the Mahavidyas and related energies. This one is Kali, the Great Night of Time, Deathless Silence, Perfect Bright Darkness. Kali means ‘time’.
Though these energies are personified and worshipped as deities, they transcend all human categorisation and all cultural niceties. They are raw reality, which is why they are so scary! Any image is Mahakali, every concept is Mahakali. This image I have made is therefore perfectly MahaKali, though not exclusively so!!

If you are interested inseeing the other images or purchasing a few(!!) please go to click here

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