martedì 7 ottobre 2014

Enchanted spaces

Last week I spent two days in London for a meeting. I lived in that incredible town several times during my past and it's good going back there sometimes: it's truly homecoming.
Also I especially like this town in Autumn: it seems to me that all the magic rising from the town's literature, landscapes, poetry, occult societies and mysteries I so much love is concentrated in this season:  it has always been Autumn the time of my several settlements in London and Autumn is probably the best time of the year for recollection - storing thoughts, feelings and memories while the world starts to vanish in coloured, withered leaves and crepuscular shadows.

The Green Woman, Wildwood Tarot
 On the 1st of October I went for a walk in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, it was a warm, bright day and I enjoyed staying there till closing time.
I walked by the pond and the Serpentine, meeting the usual hungry and scatterbrain squirrels, a magpie and a heron, geese, swans and coots and all the water birds inhabiting this place, and the many people strolling and talking all around. Hyde Park with the Rose Garden close to the main entrance, its lawns and the large paved pathway where you can find either people riding horses or skaters, is the world of the Empress, the great nurturer who allows things to grow, turning the elements into breathing beings, either animals or plants. It is a world filled of peace and creativity, where there's always space for every kind of personal expression and a lot of care is addressed to small details in order to complete a huge picture. Life is here determined by openness to the others and the ability to establish connections, between our roots and our blossoming heads. But then I had to stop for a moment before proceeding under the bridge where Hyde Park ends and the Kensington Gardens begins: a passage from voices to silence, from the outer to a special inner dimension. I'm now leaving the Empress for the realm of the High Priestess, the Seer, the Sorceress - I'm now leaving the sunny meadows for the enchanted wood.

Arthur Rackham
Arthur Rackham
Of course "my" Kensington Gardens means primarily Peter Pan. Not the harmless child represented by the famous statue, but the other one, the half-and-half, the tragic boy who escaped his human life flying away from the nursery only to discover, once arrived in the gardens, that he was no more a bird. The Peter Pan whose adventures in the Gardens, before reaching Neverland, were illustrated by Arthur Rackham, who captured the secret existence of trees and rushes of wind, lurking goblins and fairies. I'm always expecting to recognize creatures playing and laughing between the coloured leaves or to unmask some old log, some mane of entangled twigs, revealing a grotesque figure who is sitting and murmuring there.

The Seer, Wildwood Tarot
Past the bridge the landscape changes. It becomes wilder, more private, calling for personal insight - the tamed nature of the park turns into a mirror for the soul and there is a lingering impression of some misty border dividing the town from a forest of witchery. The Gardens are the other in myself - child, crone, animal, man, woman, unnamed beast -, the secrets of the High Priestess who keeps in herself the visions from different worlds, the knowledge that true time is a circular movement, where childhood and adulthood, birth and death are clasped together. Every squirrel or bird approaching me for food is now a messenger. Will I ever understand completely the message? Will I be too much afraid or too much confident?

I open the book of the Priestess, a book of fairy-tales with open ends, to find among my ancestors, my magical helpers, the figures of my fantasy gathered in these meadows with their own truths, to remind me once more that experience is made of infinite levels of reality, infinite possibilities for symbols and perspectives. I'll never stop feeling like Wendy, coping with the process of growing up that means becoming more and more able to love, nurture, accept, as the Empress teaches, while drawing the forces to do so from that inner enchanted space where childhood with both its cruelty and its wonder is never forgot.