A journey of 10,768 miles starts with a dream.

The first step is the hardest by Rhys Markham

We all have dreams, and to manifest our dreams we need goals. These are the markers on the path towards those dreams.

My dream is to live a sustainable life with the woman I love.

My goal is to purchase a smallholding where self-sufficiency, while living within our means from the land, does not take from the earth but rather supports it.

Our relationship is somewhat unusual. I am in the UK and she is in Australia. 2020 was the year for our adventure to begin, but as you know it has not been the year we thought it would be.

Looking for my dream down under. By Rhys Markham

This year for health reasons, I decided to quit my job. I began realising, even though my job was making me unwell in the physical and emotional realm. It was also distracting me from tasks I desired to accomplish.

Between quitting work, ordering books and these few weeks of pottering around, I can clearly see the scale of the tasks in front of me. Moving to Australia and how to live sustainably.

There are so many first steps we all can take towards every dream we desire. Through the admittance of what I lack in knowledge and understanding, helps leapfrog me to realities I need to learn from those who know and have walked this same desire before me. 

Even here in the city there are ways to start the journey. Stepping away from the convenience of the prepackaged and plastic wrapped and utilising the ‘local’ butcher and greengrocer.

My end goal of the smallholding will be far from convenient, so to start now being ‘local’ brings me back to an appreciation of the true value of food. 

Melborne by Rhys Markham

And here I stand, mid point in my life. Leaning on lessons learnt in my young adult life to guide me through what is before me in the coming second half.

The happiest memories were when I was in the wilderness, listening to the sounds of the wild. Sensing the earth beneath me, surrounding my being. In the silence of writing this, I reflect on how much it’s equipped my inner dream.

As my life kept moving, choices seemed to remove me further from nature, my life full of the noise of work and bills, and the flotsum and jetsum of the modem world.

It’s quite funny how timing mixed with significant events collide life and people together. My lil Aussie, from the moment we first spoke, challenged me, stopped me in my tracks. She awoke something which had been long dormant in me.

Even this subtle shift was unclear to me, my life went on as it always had. It was only after a personal tragedy did I stop to see the signs, forced to acknowledge my awakening and embrace our worth in my life.

Within all this, the 10,768 miles no longer holds a gap. It ignited and guided my happiness. I know, I want to live a sustainable life. I know who I want to live it with. Through this deeper understanding of nature, from my youth, my dream is sustained. 

the beauty is in the detail. By Rhys Markham

Thank you so much.

Don’t lose the magic.

Previously, I have spoken about reconnecting to the Earth. Since then, I have been inspired to attempt to understand by delving into burrows and river beds of my inner being. 

Now, in this post, I would like to share with you my own personal journey of reconnection.

Seeing how my fingers and feet in the soil have rooted my grounding deeper.

There is something older embedded within the land, tied with the natural rhythms of the Earth. The stories of the soil, its mythology, it is this we can use to embrace the beating heart of the Earth. And it is this that we are losing.

Its a magical Earth. by Angel Butafly.

One of the greatest tools we have in this quest to understand is observation. There is a spiritual aspect – intuitive listening. It’s here where stories and native mythology play a key role.

Forgetting these old stories, watering down the critical lessons buried within them, has the power to numb our innate connection with the Earth. Folk tales are as much a part of the land as the plants which grow in it.

As we seek to return to the origins of these myths and legends, the removal of the mouse manipulated versions becomes more evident.

It’s here, the beginnings of our own archeological diggings for reconnection, our intuitive listening strengthens. 

These stories can teach us about the plants that surround us and the animals around us, and the landscape we live within. Most of all they teach us humility and respect, we are not in control of everything out in the world, we must respect and be grateful for all we have as we can lose it in moments.

Mythical world by Angel Butafly

The spirit of the land, or Gaia has been communicating with us for as long as we have been on this planet. We are far from where we started as hunter gatherers, and far from the first farmers.

I grew up in a small town surrounded by a patchwork quilt of fields separated by ancient hedgerows and I remember the adventures I had in the lanes and bridleways.I go back and most of those hedge rows are gone as the fields are expanded and the march of the corporate mega farm wrestles the land from Gaia’s grip.

I want to reverse this, and knowing I am not the only one or even the first one I believe that our re connection to the land can be made through our reconnection to the myths of the land. It is those stories of giants, trolls and fairies that contain the magic that the modern world has removed.

Remember, we are part of the Earth. Through the wonders of technology we can do many things but we can not deny our relationship with the Earth. Now I live in a large city and it does its best to separate its population from the Spiritual Earth.

However, it hasn’t caged me. As I am within walking distance of a large wood. Within that wood, I have a log I sit on, and after sitting for a while something quite magical happens.  I feel stress and strain lift off me. I become aware of the sounds and sights of the forest. My intuitive listening kicks in, reconnection happens.

Sun beams by Angel Butafly

There are tales lost and hidden wherever you are, and through the discovery of these tales and the rebirth of our oral history and the magic of storytelling we not only reconnect with the Earth but with each other. 

Everything has its time, and now is the time for connection.

Paradigm Shift

With my feet planted on the ground, I center myself and set out from home on my daily journey through the streets and woods of East London. What started out as purely for physical fitness activity has now taken on a spiritual aspect as a way to connect with the world around me, as I walk I express my gratitude for the streets, hills, and woods. Within that gratitude, sits an awareness that this world is going through growing pains and a belief that we have a very real opportunity to change our paradigm. 

Natures beauty by Rhys Markham

It is my belief that we are at a crossroads, and it is now up to us how to proceed.

We can continue the path we are on, and believe technology and money will pull us from the flames. Or we can take responsibility, and reinvent the story. 

Crossroads by Rhys Markham

Take this chance to reconnect with the land we live with, in a world where we connect instantly with people thousands of miles apart the land under our feet tends to get neglected. 

The disconnect from nature has had an impact upon us in profound ways. We are losing our identity, our stories that tie us to this world, this is one of the reasons for the rise in mental health issues.

Technology is not the enemy as a tool it is useful, the transmission of ideas and information has never been faster, but like any tool it can be misused. We can use the technology in our pockets to reconnect with the world around us, our lives are more and more spent in cyberspace where we can control the world we live in, but what if in the real world we stopped trying to control and instead worked with nature. 

This is our chance to re evaluate our relationship with Mother Earth, look at alternative ideas like Permaculture work with nature and not against it. Humans have spent too long trying to be the master of all, we are part of Mother earth  and to that end we should work as a friend, in conjunction  with the planet.

cannopy by Rhys Markham.

We have so much to learn from nature, our desire to learn is often out paced by our desire for development. Through a holistic approach we can develop and grow with nature and it is my belief that through this method we would reach a true quality of life and be more robust with the ability to adapt to changes faster and extend the life of our species so we can achieve our dreams. 

I am taking this time to learn about the truly astonishing abilities of Mycelium, and it’s almost miraculous properties and from there that has led me to the concept of Permaculture. Which in turn has led me to “Sacred Economics.” My place within nature wasn’t even a concern to me a few months ago and now I have all these topics that I would have thought to be separate and I am waking up to the true connected nature of the Earth. 

We can heal with the world, it is our choice, we have the power to home the homeless and feed the hungry.

Yet we don’t, why is that? Are we any closer to the utopia technology promised? 

The Curiosity Curse.

I have been quiet for several days now, and I hope the title of this piece gives you, the reader, a clue as to why.

Having recently quit my job, I naturally found myself with time on my hands to explore those subjects that intrigue me. So I started reading and searching the internet for information, and I even had a plan.

In the months before I quit my job one phenomenon seemed to repeat itself regularly, that of 11:11. At first I dismissed it as coincidence and then when it kept happening more and more I convinced myself that it was just me checking how long till lunch. According to some people online it is the universe telling me I’m on the right path or it is my guardian angel trying to contact me.

At the sametime I was spending hours on YouTube watching videos on subjects ranging from Bigfoot and UFOs through meditation and Taoism even as far out as black goo. From this beginning I expanded to my horizons to tiny homes and off grid living.  As you can see the amount and breadth of subjects that intrigue me are large.

Endless posabilities. Photo by LWcreations

It was whilst heading down one of the many YouTube rabbit holes, I stumbled across mushrooms. More precisely Mycelium, and the work of Paul Stamets.

”I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.” Paul Stamets.

Not only do I believe in the spiritual connection of all life, it now seems there is a physical connection too. 

As above, so below.

I can not help drawing parallels to Plato’s cave Allegory, now I must untie myself  and face the sunlight.

Amongst all the noise of the Internet’s fringe, there are stepping stones of truth. I want to find them and use them to navigate a path, destination unknown.

Thank you for your time, and may you all be blessed in this troubled time.

Rhys Markham.

Ikigai.

a reason for being

Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”. The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life. From Wikipedia.

Purpose. photograph by LWCreations 2020.

What is my purpose?

In our modern digital world this question gets asked more and more, particularly on a Sunday evening as we brace ourselves for another Monday morning.  

As we squeeze into jobs we do not fit and do nothing but bring us misery. The weekend is our only salvation from this world, but the two days fly by fast and disappear like smoke. This was my life and I am grateful to have the opportunity to change.

I am a great believer that the universe provides me with the tools that I need, and the lessons I need to use them. I do not believe in coincidences, I see it more as little reminders that there is more to this world than what we see. 

Today was one such moment, Ikigai came into my life through a suggested video on YouTube and to be honest I usually ignore those suggestions. But today I pressed play, and Ikigai entered my life.

I have more control of my life than I believe, like a stone thrown into a pond the effects of a change of mindset ripple out and disturb the stillness. I feel more open to new concepts, and I now have the confidence to explore them.

The four pillers.

The four pillars of Ikigai are set out in the diagram above,  At first glance it seems like a no brainer in an ideal world everyone would do what they love and what they are good at. 

The stumbling block for me and I guess for most people is what the world needs and what you can be paid for.

What the world needs?

As the world becomes more and more automated and those humans still in the workforce are themselves  put under pressure to become more like machines. The world needs creative freedom to explore both what is within and what is without. 

What you can be paid for?

In simple terms you can get paid for what you produce, but that is becoming increasingly outdated. I am terrible at monetising anything I do, it actually makes me uncomfortable however the bills keep coming. One of my life goals is to overcome this and allow myself to be paid for what I love.

Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy that gives us an alternative perspective to the question “What is my purpose?” 

Thank you for your time.

Long Walk Creations.

Who am I?

We live in a world obsessed by identity.

Behind the mask.

We are forever being told to be ourselves, and be proud of who we are.

My spiritual journey started long ago as a way to explore the concept of self and my place in the universe, but back then I was lost within a maelstrom of parties and bad choices so all I found was the bar. My method of exploration was drugs and alcohol, and none taken with any reverence. I have recently seen the value of this time in my life, but for the longest time I was ashamed.

Despite my best efforts I do not know who I am, people say I am the sum of all the moments in my life. At a very basic level that is true, however it still does not answer the question “who am I?” 

Am I my creations?

It is said that we are made of stardust which is true, but that stardust is alive. And as a living bag of stardust I have no clue who I am.

A stop along my journey.

Growing up I was always of the opinion it was arrogant to label yourself. It was up to others to label you, and that is what I did. Only now do I realise my error, and admit to myself that this is just giving the power to others.

To be honest, I see that most have either lost track of or have buried their true selves so deep that they might as well be lost.

So to those people who say “Just be yourself.” be careful what you wish for, as the yourself they talk about can only exist within accepted constraints. What if your true self is too wild for those who say “just be yourself?” 

Zaphod’s just this guy.

So go find yourself, step free from society’s constraints, if that is what you wish.  

After some thought I do not want to find myself, I just want to Smile when I am happy, cry when I am sad and eat when I am hungry. 

All else is baggage to be dropped off.

Peace within the chaos.

Strange Day/Good day.

I made an omelette today, yep it was that simple. Two eggs, spinach, mushrooms and onions.

A voyage into the unknown.

I do not like eggs from boiled to fried and anywhere in between. I just do not like them, they do not feature on my food radar. 

But today, not only did I eat eggs, I made an omelette.

I woke up, did my stretches, and the thought of an omelette came into my mind.

So I went into the kitchen and made the omelette. Not only do I not eat eggs, the thought of eggs that are not in a cake, makes me feel unwell.  

So I borrowed two eggs from my housemate and cooked and ate the omelette, enjoying it as well.

As to why after 40+ years I chose now to experiment I do not know.

It was a strange, but very good day.

My kitchen creation.

Happy Sunday and may your week ahead be blessed.

Rhys Markham.

Acknowledge the Angels.

We all have those moments in our lives, when everything changes. When this story was read to me, It set off a chain of events that lead me to this point.

I will alway be grateful to the beautiful soul who read this to me, she inspires me always.

May it challenge you like it did me. Remember as my dsd used to say “Just when you think you are, you arn’t.”

The Crescent moon bear.

THERE ONCE WAS a young woman who lived in a fragrant pine forest. Her husband was away fighting in a war for many years. When finally he was released from duty, he trudged home in a most foul mood. He refused to enter the house, for he had become used to sleeping on stones. He kept to himself and stayed in the forest day and night.

His young wife was so excited when she learned her husband was coming home at last. She cooked and shopped and shopped and cooked and made dishes and dishes and bowls and bowls of tasty white soybean curd and three kinds of fish, and three kinds of seaweed, and rice sprinkled with red pepper, and nice cold prawns, big and orange.

Smiling shyly, she carried the food to the woods and knelt beside her war-weary husband and offered to him the beautiful food she had prepared. But he sprang to his feet and kicked the trays over so that the bean curd spilled, the fish jumped into the air, the seaweed and rice spilled into the dirt, and the big orange prawns rolled down the path.

“Leave me alone!” he roared, and turned his back on her. He became so enraged she was frightened of him. And finally, in desperation, she found her way to the cave of the healer who lived outside the village.

“My husband has been badly injured in the war,” the wife said. “He rages continuously and eats nothing. He wishes to stay outside and will not live with me as before. Can you give me a potion that will make him loving and gentle once again?”

The healer assured her, “This I can do for you, but I need a special ingredient. Unfortunately, I am all out of hair from the crescent moon bear. So you must climb the mountain, find the black bear, and bring me back a single hair from the crescent moon at its throat. Then I can give you what you need, and life will be good again.”

Some women would have felt daunted by this task. Some women would have thought the entire effort impossible. But not she, for she was a woman who loved. “Oh! I am so grateful,” she said. “It is so good to know that something can be done.”

So she readied for her journey, and the next morning she went out to the mountain. And she sang out “Arigato zaisho,” which is a way of greeting the mountain and saying, “Thank you for letting me climb upon your body.”

She climbed into the foothills where there were boulders like big loaves of bread. She ascended up to a plateau covered with forest. The trees had long draping boughs and leaves that looked like stars.

“Arigato zaisho,” she sang out. This was a way of thanking the trees for lifting their hair so she could pass underneath. And so she found her way through the forest and began to climb again.

It was harder now. The mountain had thorny flowers that seized the hem of her kimono, and rocks that scraped her tiny hands. Strange dark birds flew out at her in the dusk and frightened her. She knew they were ‘muen-botoke’, spirits of the dead who have no relatives, and she sang out her prayers for them: “I will be your relative. I will lay you to rest.”

Still she climbed, for she was a woman who loved. She climbed till she saw snow on the mountain peak. Soon her feet were wet and cold, and she she climbed higher, for she was a woman who loved. A storm began, and the snow blew straight into her eyes and deep into her ears. Blinded, still she climbed higher. And when the snow stopped, the woman sang out “Arigato zaisho,” to thank the winds for ceasing to blind her.

She took shelter in a shallow cave and could barely pull all of herself into it. Though she had a full pack of food, she did not eat, but covered herself in leaves and slept. In the morning, the air was calm and the little green plants even showed through the snow here and there. “Ah,” she thought, “now, for the crescent moon bear.”

She searched all day and near twilight found thick cords of scat and needed to look no farther, for a gigantic black bear lumbered cross the snowfall, leaving behind deep pad and claw marks. The crescent moon bear roared fiercely and entered its den. She reached into her bundle and placed the food she had brought in a bowl. She set the bowl outside the den and ran back to her shelter to hide. The bear smelled the food and came lurching from its den, roaring so loud it shook loose little stones. The bear circled around the food from a distance, sampled the wind many times, then ate the food up in one gulp. The great bear reared up and disappeared into its den.

The next evening the woman did the same, setting the food in the bowl, but this time, instead of returning to her shelter she retreated only halfway. The bear smelled the food, heaved itself itself out of its den, roared to shake the stars from the skies, circled, tested the air very cautiously, but finally gobbled up the food and crawled back into its den. This continued for many nights until one dark blue night the woman felt brave enough to wait even closer to the bear’s den.

She put the food in the bowl outside the den and stood right by the opening. When the bear smelled the food and lumbered out, it saw not only the usual food but a pair of small human feet as well. The bear turned its head sideways and roared so loud it made the bones in the woman’s body hum.

The woman trembled, but stood her ground. The bear hauled itself onto its back legs, smacked its jaws, and roared so that the woman could see right up into the red-and-brown roof of its mouth. But she did not run away. The bear roared even more and put out its arms as though to sieze her, its ten claws hanging like ten long knives over her scalp. The woman shook like a leaf in high wind, but stayed right where she was.

“Oh please, dear bear,” she pleaded, “please, dear bear, I’ve come all this way because I need a cure for my husband.” The bear brought its front paws to earth in a spray of snow and peered into the woman’s frightened face. For a moment, the woman felt she could see entire mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, and villages reflected in the bear’s old, old eyes. A deep peace settled over her, and her trembling ceased.

“Please, dear bear, I’ve been feeding you all these past nights. Could I please have one of the hairs from the crescent moon on your throat?” The bear paused and thought, This little woman would be easy food. Yet suddenly he was filled with pity for her. “It is true,” said the crescent moon bear, “you’ve been good to me. You may have one hair of my hairs. But take it quickly, then leave here and go back to your own.”

The bear raised its great snout so that the white crescent on its throat showed, and the woman could see the strong pulse of the bear’s heart there. The woman put one hand on the bear’s neck, and with her other took hold of a single glossy white hair. Quickly, she pulled it. The bear reared back and cried out as though wounded. And this pain then setlled into annoyed huffs.

“Oh, thank you, crescent moon bear, thank you so much.” The woman bowed and bowed. But the bear growled and lumbered forward a step. It roared at the woman in words she could not understand and yet somehow words she had somehow known all of her life. She turned and fled down the mountain as fast as she could. She ran under the trees with leaves shaped like stars. All the way through she cried “Arigato zaisho,” to thank the trees for lifting their boughs so she could pass. She stumbled over the boulders that looked like big loaves of bread, crying “Arigato zaisho,” to thank the mountain for letting her climb upon its body.

Though her clothes were ragged, her hair askew, her face soiled, she ran down the stone stairs that led to the village, down the dirt road and right through town to its other side, and into the hovel where the healer sat tending the fire.

“Look, look! I have it, I found it, I claimed it, a hair of the crescent moon bear!” cried the young woman.

“Ah good, ” said the healer with a smile. She peered closely at the woman and took the pure white hair and held it out toward the light. She weighed the long hair in one old hand, measured it with one finger, and exclaimed, “Yes! This is an authentic hair from the crescent moon bear.” The suddenly she turned and threw the hair deep into the fire, where it popped and crackled and was consumed in a bright orange flame.

“No!” cried the woman. “What have you done?!”

“Be calm. It is good. All is well,” said the healer. “Remember each step you took to climb the mountain? Remember each step you took to capture the trust of the crescent moon bear? Remember what you saw, what you heard, and what you felt?”

“Yes,” said the woman, “I remember it very well.”

The old healer smiled at her gently and said, “Please now, my daughter, go home with your new understandings and proceed in the same ways with your husband.”

from _Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype_ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD

Gratitude.

#spirituality

“Death is no enemy, but the foundation of gratitude, sympathy, and art. Of all life’s pleasures, only love owes no debt to death.” Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

Having a partner that travels the same path as you is a blessing, and something I am eternally grateful for. In fact when I was thinking about my next post, it was clear it had to be gratitude. And as if by magic the above quote popped into my inbox almost simultaneously a gift from my lover. 

Unexpected woodland finds. Image by Rhys Markham

My introduction to gratitude was like most peoples, a parent figure reminding you to say thank you when someone gave me a gift.

From that introduction, most people just remember gratitude as politeness which is not a bad thing because even on the spiritual level it is politeness. And that is how I left it, thank you to those who gave me gifts or helped me. It has only been recently that I have really thought about gratitude and its’ wider meaning and its’ links to intention setting.

There’s magic here. Image by Rhys Markham.

What makes you grateful?

Grateful to start another day and to be more than you were yesterday, it is difficult and there are days when even waking up is hard. From experience if you find one thing to be grateful for and hold onto it you will be amazed how it can change your attitude to life. Like a snowball it builds slowly and from my experience, it sneaks up on you and here is a tip, do not start big like saying I am grateful for the Sun as you just feel silly or at least i did. Just start by being grateful for your coffee as trust me there are mornings when it will save your life.

My point is that gratitude only has power when you truly feel it. Sometimes people struggle with the concept of who are you grateful to, and this took me a while to discover. I started by being grateful to those who made the coffee, which is not wrong. However the true power of gratitude comes when you remove the target and just are grateful, at that point something magical happens. 

Lost right boot. Image By Rhys Markham

Gratitude is an energy and it flows through the world embracing all of creation, and you discover the world can be grateful back.

I have experience this on many occasions, most recently on my way home from work I was cold and standing at the bus stop  and my phone said I would have to wait 10 to 15 minutes, I remember taking a deep breath  and thinking how grateful I would be if my bus would turn up now, and a couple of minutes later it came around the corner, saying thank you I stepped onto the warm bus.

Never underestimate the power of gratitude. 

Rhys Markham.

Connection

It is a very common word  today it is mostly used with regard to WiFi, but in truth it has a deeper meaning. The connection of us to the Earth spirit, that lives in the Air,Water,Rocks, Animals and the Plants. I include humans amongst the animals, I see our arrogance to separate ourselves from the animals as the biggest obstacle to overcome.

our little friend.

The earliest form of religion is Animism. The belief that all life has a soul, even the things we see as inanimate, and that soul has control over the environment around us. When I first heard the term I was in an Anthropology class, the lecturer seemed to put a negative slant on the primitive nature of Animism.

 Animism resonated with me, as at that time I had developed a love for the outside. The more time I spent outside the more I felt there was something more to this world hidden behind the curtain. 

second self

Even though I was aware of something powerful running through all things on this planet, I had an awakening when I was working in America and I took the weekend off and hiked up to a place called Eagles Perch I rolled out my sleeping bag and just slept under the stars.  I woke at the first light, and sat on the cliff overlooking a sea of trees as the sun crept over the horizon I looked to one side and saw two Eagles spireling above the edge of the cliff, trying to catch the morning thermals. I remember getting up to leave and feeling refreshed as I took the trail back to the camp. A family of Porcupines started to walk the same trail in front of me, and I could not go round them so I travelled at their pace. Once I returned to camp I felt changed. This 19 year old from Essex England who had no idea about nature and yet I was genuinely affected by this experience.

Magic is real

I had my awakening confirmed a few years later when I took part in a spiritual retreat in the wilds of Wales. During a sweat lodge I was overcome by the feeling of unity with my surroundings, I felt my second self.The part of us all that inhabits the non physical world, it was a brief yet powerful experience. A feeling of belonging as if I was given a chance to see the world as it truly is, a connected conscious symbiotic organism.

When asked by a friend what am I looking for I said to re discover that feeling and let it inhabit me. I have no wish to understand that experience as understanding is a form of labeling and what good would labeling be within the connected nature of life. We need to take the time and live it.    

Sacred nature.

I am grateful to all that read my work.

Rhys Markham