Category Archives: Uncategorized

It Hurts – Tragically Hip

It Hurts – Tragically Hip

It hurts
That the “Man Who Walks Among the Stars”
is now there,
poetic, mystical magician of music.
The collective grief of Canada spills
– almost too much for a country
that loved Gord Downie
yet understood not enough of his intentions.
He celebrated every particle of Canada
inviting us to his death, placing his heart
with indigenous brothers and sisters
– a Secret Path and Chanie Wenjack –
to bring lasting reconciliation to the neglected and abused.
Exposing a deep scar on the nation’s conscience,
In his passing he challenges us still –
His flaming torch will not be doused.
I for one commit to pick up this flame
….will you?……

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, standing and concert
Honouring Gord DownieLike Page

There will never be another Gord Downie. 

The Solace of Winter.

                The wind from the north soughed softly along the shore but froze any man it gripped. Snow lay in drifts, piled deep to the spine of Mount Doracher. A mire of ice covered the window panes. The cold stole into every door and numbed the hands and minds of those unprepared for it. No winter had been like this. Donald stood by his window and breathed on the window pane to melt the frost. He saw a fringe of ice skirting the bay below his house. There was a stoop to his shoulders and his clothes were unkempt. He lifted his coat and scarf from a chair and put them on. He pushed his bed away from the fire that was now cold. The room was untidy and dirty with newspapers and dishes strewn about the place. Breathing heavily from the cold he lit the fire, humming tonelessly to himself, indifferent to the squalor around him. In this, his sixty-eighth year, he simply did not care. No one came there anymore and he chose not to go anywhere. His face was heavily lined, older than its years. His mouth pursed as he sucked at his teeth waiting for the fire to catch. He grunted in pleasure as the flames grew. He spread his large, weathered hands before him to catch their warmth. He shuffled into the kitchen and coaxed a paraffin burner to life and placed a kettle of water on it to boil. He waited, not even thinking of the day and what he had to do. His responses to the seasons and their demands were automatic and often without thought.

He waited in his freezing kitchen for the boiling kettle, then took his cup and made tea. He collected a large spoon and took a pot of cold stew from the pantry and shuffled back to the fire. He sat on his bed and breakfasted on the cold, greasy lamb stew and left the pot by the fire. He drank slowly from his large cup then prepared for the cold. He lined his boots and socks with newspapers and put a layer between his shirt and jacket, and stepped outside. He gasped as the cold hit him and he made hurriedly to the byre. The animals there shuddered at the raw blast as the door opened but quickly recognized him. His hens boldly gathered about him. He talked to them, reaching to the loft for their feed and water.

He set their feed before them and searched their nesting places in the crannies of the byre for their eggs. They offered large brown eggs to this man with the soft voice and gentle hands. He collected a basketful of eggs before taking hay into his cow. He put the hay in the manger and ran his hand over her back and flanks. She lowed softly and turned to rub her head on his leg before picking at the hay. He cleaned the manure from her stall and put fresh water in the trough. The byre was cleaner than his house and some nights he would sleep there next to the sound and warm smell of his animals. He milked the cow, pressing his face to her flank while his strong fingers drew milk from her swollen udders. He hummed a tune that once he danced to, drawing life and vigour from the company of beasts. He left the cow munching at her hay and placed the two buckets, one with eggs, the other overflowing with milk, on a shelf by the door. Taking a half filled sack of cob nuts he braced himself again for the cold.

He trudged away from the byre, feeling the cold’s bite. He searched for the dozen sheep he still kept, thinking of where they would be sheltering from the snow and cold. He climbed the ridge that separated his house from the rest of the village, noticing clumps of moss underfoot and icicles hanging from fences. He looked down on desolation. No smoke rose from any chimney. Nobody lived there any longer. They had left or died. Fences hung in disrepair and empty houses gave themselves to the ravages of time. He shielded his eyes from the snow’s glare and looked for his sheep. In the distance some four miles away he could make out the thin ribbon of the new road, built to take tourists more rapidly from one end of the island to the other, cutting off his village. But it mattered not. Donald was the only one left in the village. He shunned the company of men, preferring his solitude and isolation. He was warmed only by nature and his animals and had long ceased to think about the world he had turned his back on.

He saw his sheep huddled for warmth in the lee of a deserted croft house and he picked his way through the snow drifts towards them. The wind had dropped and the sweat from his body had turned his layers of newspaper to a spongy mass. He shivered as he threw them away. The sheep had seen him and galloped towards him, some floundering in drifts in their eagerness to reach him. He patiently dug them out and fed them by hand from the sack he carried. He led them to a deserted house and opened the door so that they could shelter there. He counted them. They were all there. He shivered as he sat there pressed against them for warmth. His sack was empty but still his creatures ferreted for more. He laughingly pushed them away and stood up to go. He noticed a change in the sky that heralded more snow and pulled his coat about him a little tighter.

He wondered if the post van would have left his supplies by the road. It came with groceries once a week and the driver would leave a box of bare essentials for the man he rarely saw, taking his dues from the weekly cheque from the district office that he cashed for Donald. The two men would hardly talk on the rare occasions they met but there was a subliminal trust between them. If he did not have money then he would leave a basket of eggs, a shoulder of mutton or a box of filleted fish and the van driver would arrive at an adequate recompense. This primitive form of barter suited both parties. He walked the few remaining miles to the road leaving the sheep in the deserted house. Broken fence frames stuck out from the grip of the snow, wooden sheep pens, broken and derelict, groaned with the ice expanding in their seams. Donald had long ago accepted this neglect and desolation.

He arrived at the road and saw that a cardboard box had been left for him. He opened it and examined every article before putting them in his sack. Flour, butter, sugar, tea, nails and cartridges. And a large pot of home-made jam. He smiled at this and muttered to himself, “Nice man that driver, must leave a lobster for him one of these days.” He transferred the sack to his back and walked hurriedly to his croft. Already the day’s light was disappearing. It began to snow as he walked half frozen the five miles to where he remained the sole human survivor. His hands and feet were numb and his eyes staring as he gulped great breaths of air into his lungs on his steady trudge home. He reached his door and fumbled with useless fingers at the latch until it yielded to admit him.

His fire was all but out though he had banked it with slow-burning peats. It had taken him longer to struggle to the road and back than he had anticipated. He took paper and thrust it under a still smouldering peat. His hands could not grip his box of matches and while he tried again and again to take a match between his fingers the paper took flame from the peat. Gratefully he bent to it, placing small sticks round the flame, building it up to take peats that were stacked by the fire. The warmth shot through his hands like a pain as the cold thawed from him. He shuddered at the sensations in his body but did not move away until the flames cast their warmth to the room. He hung the pot of cold stew on a hook above the fire and added flour and salt to his greasy mixture.

While it cooked he went outside again, to the byre, to feed his animals and bring back the eggs and milk. He was tired. The cold had drained and sapped him. It was with relief that he finally closed his door for the night, stuffing paper and rags into the gaps through which winter’s fingers would poke. An involuntary shiver passed through him as he sat on his bed before the fire. His stew boiled and he ate ravenously, spooning it straight from the pot to his mouth, soaking lumps of bread into the gravy and eating them with his fingers. He carried the empty pot to the kitchen and took a long drink from the bucket of milk. It left a white stain around his lips which he wiped with his sleeve. He belched in satisfaction and wearily returned to the warmth. As the fire continued to burn he lay fully clothed on the bed and pulled the heavy blankets over him. He slept the dreamless sleep of the weary.

The winter seemed to never end. Donald was desperate for the spring to come. He needed the signs of continuity and life to guide him on his own peculiar struggle for survival. He had forgotten why he had become so separate from friends and family, if indeed any decision had consciously been made. He had clung to his father’s barren farm, to the hills and his animals and they had nurtured him in a way that human company could not. He was not unhappy, neither was he happy — he was simply content to survive.

“Letter for you.”

Donald was standing by the road basking in the first signs of spring as the van driver pulled up. The driver climbed out of the van with a sack of provisions under one arm and a letter clutched in his other hand. The deep cold of winter had thawed, allowing the first daffodils to poke their heads above ground with their dormant yellow splendour. The thaw had not penetrated Donald. He stood uneasily in the spring sunshine, staring at the letter held out to him. He slowly took the envelope and a faint uneasy memory stirred in him as he recognized the writing.

“I believe it’s from your sister,” said the van driver.

He nodded in agreement and stood still for a moment as he wondered why she would write to him. He stuffed it into his pocket and collected his sack of provisions, then without a word walked away from the van. The driver shook his head slowly at Donald’s retreating back and got out to collect the bucket of eggs left there for him. Behind the bucket was a large lobster. Its claws were bound and the antennae on its head moved slowly when he picked it up. The driver again shook his head at the strangeness of the man he would have liked to know better.

There was turmoil in Donald’s mind as he walked to his desolate home. Moira, his sister, thirty years or more since he had seen her. The letter remained unread for several days, sitting underneath a cup on the mantelpiece with other letters he had received through the years and had never opened. He went about his daily round with his animals and his lobster traps, taking care of the creatures that sustained him. He caught the changing tide in a small rowing boat he had salvaged. He carefully placed several traps by a rock skerrie where he knew the first lobsters of spring would be hiding. But the letter from Moira kept drifting into his mind. It lay neglected on the mantle until he could stand it no longer and hurried home from the oar he was mending and he took the letter down. He opened it and read what Moira had to say, admiring the roundness of her script. She had been to the island several times but could never bring herself to cross the gulf that now separated them. She had seen him from the road last summer.

“So that was the well-dressed body who stared at me so long,” mused Donald.

She wanted to see him. She was widowed. She would come in the late Autumn. She did not expect that he would meet her at the ferry.

“No I wouldn’t do that, right enough,” he muttered to himself. She would make her own way.

He read the letter several times before placing it back underneath the cup. He rubbed his hand over the stubble on his chin.

“I must shave for when she comes, aye and clean this place up.”

He glanced round at the midden he inhabited and smiled ruefully to himself. He liked his walls and took comfort from the simple homeliness of the clutter. He talked and chuckled to himself as he imposed a certain tidiness and cleanliness to his home. All for his sister’s visit, late in Autumn. He was harvesting his main crop of potatoes when he saw her walk from a car that stopped at the road. He went to meet her and greeted her shyly, unsure of what to say to his sister. He admired the cut of her expensive suit and sensible walking shoes and guided her along the path to the house where they had both been children. They talked easily about their lives and different fortunes, letting the other only glimpse the surface and not the depths. Donald had not talked for such length in a decade and was mildly exhilarated at using vocabulary long neglected. He noted that time had not been kind to Moira. Her face was drawn and he saw bitterness in her gaunt eyes that did not reflect the dignity and grace of her expensive clothes.

He led her through the door of the house. There was a large bucket of marsh flowers by the fireplace. He had picked them that morning from the marsh, remembering her love for them. He had rearranged the house so that its comfort would welcome a visitor. Moira looked around and wrinkled her nose in distaste.

“The same old sticks and ugly furniture. How can you live with it still Donald?”

His heart sank with disappointment.

“It suits me well enough for what I want.”

“That is quite evident.” She answered waspishly. Her own house in a fashionable area of Glasgow was polished and gleaming, expensive and cold. Correct for mid-day bridge with her ladies’ committees. A burnished reflection of the constant show to paper over the void of life that she had never lived. Her escape from the poverty of her island life had not provided freedom from her bitterness.

She couldn’t help but to walk round the room and into the kitchen, inspecting the carpets, chairs and ragged curtains.

“You should get rid of all this. I’ll send you what you need from Glasgow. Don’t worry, I’ll pay. The least I can do for my neglect of you.”

Donald was stunned and stood in helpless silence at his sister’s verbal destruction of things that satisfied him.

“Is that all you can see, Moira?” he said gently. “These sticks you despise are just simple parts of what I have here. I’m content with them. If they offend you, look not at them. Did you see the irises I picked for you this morning? In the bucket there. You used to like them.”

She turned and looked at his gesture and felt the mildness of his soft rebuke. She bit her lips and tried to control the mounting venom that came to her tongue. How dare he live in this simplicity? Who was he to turn his back on the world and live just as he pleased?

“Why do you stay here, cut off from everything?” She blurted out.

He shrugged and took his time to answer. “I don’t really know why, it just seemed to happen that way.” He answered simply. His mildness and gentleness were a spur to Moira’s deep well of bitterness.

“I’ll tell you why,” she snapped ” You’re hiding here in this hovel. You could never leave this island because deep down you’re a total failure.” She paused for breath unable to stop the bitterness she felt. “Out there is a world that takes guts and backbone. You-you’re spineless.” She stopped for a moment at the look of amazement on her brother’s face. “You could have been the best fisherman in the Minch, yes and a writer too. But look at you. Secluded here with your sheep subsidies and quiet. You would be exposed anywhere else for what you are. A failure. That’s what keeps you and everybody else here on this island.” She finished with a sharp edge to her words, intended to cut her brother.

Slowly Donald understood the well of bitterness that his sister drew from. With quiet composure he spoke. “If that is so, then why must you come back to reveal this truth to me, Moira? Why do you think you have to make sure I understand why I am here?” At her silence he continued. “I’ll tell you why. There’s a simplicity here that offends you, that reminds you of where you came from, an honesty before God that you fear to recognize. This is a rebuke to the empty round of shallow stagings you fill your life with. That’s why you come back to this island. To fill your emptiness, to scoff at simplicity, while you snatch at it for yourself.”

The colour mounted on Moira’s cheeks as his voice grew more insistent.

“There’s a reminder here, of what you once were and could have been and that’s too much for a creature like you to accept. You chose your life, ashamed of us here but you know full well where the balance of truth lies.”

There was a hushed silence filled only with their emotion and strain. They were both right. They faced one another across the kitchen table, the same one they had cracked crab claws on when they were children. The fury and shock of their words made them tremble. Moira’s lips quivered as she choked off a retort and hurriedly she turned away from Donald’s piercing eyes and words. He let out a long breath and stepped to Moira’s side and put his hand on her arm. “What are we saying to one another Moira? Thirty years and all we do is hurt? We’ve learned very little then. Come and walk to the shore with me and let the autumn breeze take the evil from our tongues.”

Moira nodded through her trembling and reluctantly followed her brother. They walked slowly and Moira slipped her hand through his arm. He pointed out things to her – gently reminding her of what she had come from. Easing her mind with stories of the sheep running away with the washing and rabbiting with their brother Angus. They stood by the shore. Two figures in middle age briefly united in a semblance of peace.

“Well Moira, I may be a bit of a failure in some eyes.”

“No, no Donald please let me take back my words I didn’t mean to……”

“You can have back the pain, my sister, but not the words. There’s some truth in them. But realize that here in a terrible fashion to you and others I at least survive in the shadow of truth and eternity. Derelict and simpleton that I appear, I might just understand a little of the way of things.”

They stood in silence for a long time, tired and spent from their emotion. He walked with her to the road where her car was parked. They were at last strangely comfortable with one another.

“I’ve a favour to ask of you.”

He stopped and listened.

“My youngest son is with me on the island.” There was a note of distaste in her voice that puzzled him. “He’s a businessman and has bought the schoolhouse at the head of the next bay to you. He wants to set up a shellfish factory and needs a site and a deep water landing stage for fishing boats. It would bring business and employment to the island.”

She finished feebly.

Donald looked at her sharply. The only location for such an access was on his farm, the north side of the bay below his house. There the rock plunged vertically into the sea, a natural anchorage for fishing vessels, a haven yet for cormorants and guillemots.

“No, that’s not why I came to see you,” she said hastily at his continued silence. “I came to see you for myself, but will you meet with him?’

Donald nodded and she quickly got into her car, relieved that she had accomplished her purpose. She drove away from everything she feared to be reminded of.

The smells and sounds of morning pleased Donald as he sat in the sun by his house the next day. He was cleaning his shotgun. He cocked his head to listen to the different songs of birds long awake, resting the gun across his knees. He saw lapwings soaring almost vertically to catch flying insects and high above a majestic eagle circling slowly in a sky so clear and blue. He drew breath at the scent of marsh and pasture that drifted towards him. He never ceased to wonder at the regeneration the seasons were capable of. He smiled to himself as he continued to clean his gun, thinking of the mountain hares he must outwit that day. A man, about thirty years of age, approached the house. Donald had seen him for the last mile of his long walk from the new road. As the man came nearer he noticed the smart blue city suit and the small green yachting boots that kept the trouser cuffs from the grass and mud. The man was sweating heavily in the morning sun, his collar tight about his throat. He was heavily set and his breath wheezed harshly as he came to a halt in front of him. Donald inspected him more closely, noting the sleeked back hair, the carefully clipped moustache, and the shrewd, sharp eyes that lurked behind hooded lids.

“I’m your sister’s son, John Menzie is my name.” The voice was soft, melodious and manipulative. It took Donald by surprise. No, this could not be Moira’s son.

“Well, I’m her stepson, Moira never had children of her own.”

So that’s it, I was right not to recognize him as spawned from Moira. Donald pondered in silence at the soft and charming voice that he was not in the least taken in by. He shook John Menzie’s hand and exchanged easy pleasantries about the weather and crops and his sister Moira. He recoiled a little at the smoothness of the man, but nothing showed in his soft blue eyes or mild expression. He listened as his sister’s stepson carefully led up to his business.

It was explained to him why the access through his croft was so important to John Menzie’s business venture. He allowed the music of the man’s voice to continue without his full attention. He patiently listened to the economics of shell fishing, the employment it would bring and the new life and prosperity it would promise. Menzie had already established small ventures on the island that tied in to his mainland business.

“Will it be your money that will pay for all this?” Donald asked.

“Not exactly,” a quick frown wrinkled Menzie’s forehead. “There’s government grants and employment grants for starting something new in an area like this. It just needs someone like me to start it. With present prices for shellfish, a factory here couldn’t fail. There’ll be quite a bit of my own money as well, but most of it will be from the government.” He grinned in an assumed compliance.

“It’s time something was put back into these islands. Well, shall we walk over to where the site would be and I’ll show you what I have in mind?” Donald reluctantly complied. Menzies seemed not to notice his reticence as he talked of book keeping procedures that would bring in the most profit, the money in it for Donald and the good it would do for the island community.

At the other side of the bay John Menzie paced out the factory’s location, how simple and quick then to transfer the fish from a jetty that would abutt the natural landing stage. He was thorough and persuasive and Callum Mor admired his skill. But it was only with half an ear that he listened. He heard the wash of the sea on the rocks and looked at the welter of flowers about him, whose regimes changed with every month. He was no longer attentive to the words of the young man. His mind was open to a different reality. They walked back from the bay. Menzie felt pleased, mistaking reticence for acceptance.

“You’ll think it over? There’ll be quite a pocket full of money for you if this goes through.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s at all necessary.”

“This is business, you know,” Menzie smiled expansively.

“You do not understand me Mr. Menzie, I do not wish my pockets to be full.” They were back by the house.

“There will not be any jetty on my land for your factory.”

John Menzie stood in silence, but only for a moment.

“Why not?” There was no melody in the voice now, just a controlled harshness. Donald took his time, picking up his shotgun to resume its cleaning.

“There may be a lot you think I don’t understand but this much I do know. You will no doubt be here to receive the government’s bounty in the name of helping this island. But I will not expect you to be here the moment there is a draw on your own finances.” He looked shrewdly at the young man whose face was reddening with anger. “Dreams will be raised, there’ll be a brief life for a few families but you will leave richer and it will be this island that will remain poor. It is better that the flowers and gulls maintain their ascendancy on that bit of my land. They have more respect for it than you.”

A mixture of emotion struggled for expression in John Menzie’s face. He burst out angrily “You bloody old fool. Do you think you can hold back progress?”

Donald smiled at him and said slowly “I think I may be just doing that very thing.” “You’ll not stop me, there are other places and other people who can use money,” Menzie snarled.

Donald calmly indicated with the gun barrel that the conversation was over. Menzie stood for only a moment before striding swiftly away, his green yachting boots brought a smile of amusement as Donald lifted the gun. A blast from the shotgun roared over the morning’s stillness. Menzie threw himself to the ground and rolled into a ditch, and frantically searched himself for pellet wounds. There were none. Slowly he drew himself erect and looked back to where the old man stood with the shotgun in his hands. Donald pointed to the hare that lay twitching in its death throes not thirty yards from the ditch that harboured Menzie.

“It’s a terrible mess you’re making of your fine suit, Mr. Menzie,” he called.

Menzie noticed the green slime on his shoulder and mud on his knees and in fury strode to the already dead hare and was due to kick it until he noticed the shotgun aimed casually in his direction. He spun on his heel and quickened his step. Every time he turned to look over his shoulder he would see the old man stalking him, keeping an easy pace with him. Twice more the shotgun roared, and twice more did John Menzie throw himself to the ground only to have yet another dead hare pointed out to him.

He reached the road and panting in fury and hysteria. Moira was there with the car. She had watched her stepson set the hares coursing for her brother’s gun and relished that her arrogant stepson should be reduced to a frustrated sobbing. He climbed into the seat beside her, struggling for control. She sat silent, coolly smoking a cigarette. She did not offer him one but waited for her brother to walk to the car. He came slowly with the shotgun in the crook of his arm and stood by her window.

“It’s a fine day Moira.”

“Not if you are a hare or a businessman, surely.”

He chuckled softly at her humour.

“Here’s something for your dinner.”

“It’s a good day for shooting, Donald.”

“It is at that.”

They enjoyed an almost private amusement, ignoring the man staring fixedly through the windscreen. Moira exulted in her brother’s surprising invincibility and accepted the hares he held out to her. She smiled openly at him, her brother, without guile or bitterness tracing her features. “Thank you Donald and God’s blessings with you.”

“And with you Moira.”

She drove away. He knew he would not see her again but rejoiced that they could give God’s blessing to one another. Donald glanced at the darkening autumn sky and knew there would soon be a first snow on Mount Doracher. He smiled to himself and returned to his solitude and isolation, relieved once more to shun the company of his fellow men.

 

 

REVIEWS OF NEW PLANET, NEW WORLD

This futuristic finale of a trilogy stands on award winning books – Redemption and Trailing Sky Six Feathers. Buy a copy ($24.95) and receive the two prior books for FREE. Order through: http://ianprattis.com/NewPlanet.html   

Also on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble.

  • Virginia Minchkin, Poet:

This work is exquisite – the colors, movement, confusion, overlap, confrontation… visceral interpretation of connectedness… these are the words ‘New Planet, New World’ bring up for me. …the last book in a trilogy, bringing the vibrancy, violence, cataclysms, and expansive growth of the characters’ experiences on different planets, back full circle to share in the humanity of hope for us all!

  • Joslyn Wolfe, Editor: Focus on Women Magazine:

Ian Prattis has been gifted with the ability to move, encourage and inspire others through his books.  He writes about ethics, religion, personal experiences, spirituality, transformation and excels at the task. It is time to celebrate his many accomplishments with this recent literary masterpiece.

  • Maggie McLeod, Artist:

I am deeply honoured to see part of this journey…What Ian Prattis has already done for this world and what he continues to do with this book provides a sense of relief and gratitude not only to me but for anyone who turns the pages of this epic work.

  • Camila Reimers, Chilean-Canadian author:

Ian Prattis is a master storyteller. His writing style reminds me of Magical Realism used in Latino American literature, where there is magic in the rational world and there is no lineal time, the characters live in a circle where past, present and future happen simultaneously. At this time of turmoil the message of hope that Ian has to offer is very much needed by new and old generations.

  • John Lundin, author of The New Mandala – Eastern Wisdom for Western Living, written with the Dalai Lama, and Journey to the Heart of the World, written with the indigenous elders of la Sierra Nevada in Colombia.

In his new book, New Planet, New World, author Ian Prattis shares a compelling futuristic Hero’s Journey of hope for humanity.  And he offers an age-old prescription for bringing about the realization of that hope: the cultivation of love, the mainspring for authentic and responsible living, as taught by the elders of all spiritual cultures throughout history. This book is a wisdom teaching of its own, with the past informing a hope for the future.

  • Rabia Wilcox, Counsellor:

Ian Prattis has created a magnificent journey through time and space – dimensions too – in sacred ways of honouring all peoples, their ancestors, future generations and the kindly power of Nature. The acts of generosity, the authentic responsibility explored and experienced throughout this book nourishes my body, mind and spirit.

  • Anita Rizvi, Therapist:

“New Planet, New World” is a powerful novel which explores an alternative to the destructive path civilisation is presently on. The intricacy of many themes keeps the reader engaged with brilliant writing that is exciting, tender, engaging and thoughtful. The underlying message is the fostering of love as the basic philosophy for the future. Most arresting is the fiery rant by Dr. Tom Hagen at the UN in 2080 addressing the stubborn refusal of governments and corporations immersed in the oil/carbon complex to take heed. The relationship between Catriona and Rising Moon is particularly moving.  We observe two young women from different worlds coming together to create a haven for young people, placing their safety above ego fostering. Through these characters, we consider how any two nations can apply similar principles while civilisation still has the chance. The battle with jihadists is riveting and difficult to bear, but even here compassion prevails.

This futuristic novel combines science with Pope Francis’ Encyclical and strong warnings regarding the disregard by carbon cabal leaders. Tolstoy’s assertion of love as the basis for proper living pulsates as an undercurrent throughout each chapter. Dr. Prattis succeeds in offering us a gift of hope in troubled times via the presentation of a new way of living based on ecology, respect and compassion. “New Planet, New World” not only is one of the most important books of 2016; it is a wake-up call for all of humanity. Ian Prattis’ writing moves me… a visionary sent from God to our troubled world.

Dear Ian, I thought the first book introducing Callum Mor in “Redemption” was the best but oh, how I was wrong… I am in absolute bliss reading New Planet New World…it’s hard to explain how it feels to read your work… It is like God’s energy is moving through each word. I cried so much at Catriona’s meeting with Rising Moon…it is one thing to know the general summary of this book, it is quite another to read it…Thank you for being a gift of light to our world, dear friend!

Anita

 

  • Lynn Ross Adamson-Malelli, photographer:

In this original and surprising plot twist, the final book of this trilogy leaps into the near future. This future does not exist as a separate chronological entity, it is simply part of the eternal ‘now’, the ‘now’ that requires mindfulness. We learn through the twists and turns of the individual stories that the spirit of this Mother Earth is in all of us, at all times, wherever we are in the universe. The trilogy as a whole guides us from one man’s macrocosm, through the connectedness of spirit throughout time and out into the expanse of the universal macrocosm.

 

  • Eleanor Aronoff, Reiki Master

The stories in the trilogy are diverse and very human tales that touch deeply into the emotional heart.  The beautiful and evocative writing brilliantly weaves the stories together, carrying us along as we evolve with the author, learning what it truly means to be human.  This final book completes the journey that has taken us across great distances of time and space while also keeping us rooted firmly in our hearts.  I highly recommend New Planet, New World.  Not only is it an inspirational and heartfelt story, it is a magnificent adventure to savour and enjoy.

  • Allan Green, Spiritual Facilitator

This book celebrates one of the great visionaries of our times.

Sacred Stalker

“Sacred Stalker” is the story of what I felt about writing “Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse.” And how it led to transformation. You can receive an Autographed Soft Cover book for $15 (plus $12 S&H) plus a FREE Pine Gate Meditations CD. Go to http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html

Several decades ago I became aware that I had a stalker. I would glance over my shoulder and feel a distinct presence. The presence was a woman from the 18th century. This was made known to me by a shaman mentor – White Eagle Woman – who made it clear that I was mistaken. This was no stalker. The female entity from the past was a medicine woman from the American Southwest. She was trying to bring powerful medicine gifts through to me in the 21st century, but I had not learned how to release my logical and intellectual mind, and certainly did not possess the wisdom to receive. She had a name – Trailing Sky Six Feathers.

Over time my stubborn resistance was no match for her determination. I ultimately surrendered to this Muse. I learned that I had died in her arms in 1777 and she swore to find me in the future to complete my purpose. Through her insistence I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. She refused to give up on how dense I was and through her insistence, karma was reversed, the internal battles ceased and I learned to navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries.

The medicine gifts received from Trailing Sky during dream visions and shamanic journeys required that I nurture skills within me to use them wisely. I eventually remembered a clear mosaic of experiences stretching back to 1777. Past life memories collide head on with the present. The relentless shadowing by this Muse brought understanding and purpose to overcome the darkness of my past.

How did this all come about?

Many years ago when I was a young professor at Carleton University, I split my time between Ottawa and the Hebrides in Scotland. I was trying to create an academic career and at the same time save a failing marriage. I was not doing a good job with either. I had a boat – a 26 foot clinker built vessel with an inboard engine to enter the dangerous surrounding sea with tourists on board. I must have been really insane or totally desperate – perhaps both! One disastrous journey sears my mind. It was from Eriskay, to the north, back to my home on the Island of Barra. An unanticipated storm and dense fog quickly blew up to gale force winds. Disaster loomed from every option that was available to my mind. I stood braced at the wheel of this small craft with four tourists huddled on board. Fear was no longer guiding me, as I muttered the 23rd Psalm – “I shall not want.” I remember a terrible chilling silence come over me along with utter helplessness. The boat navigated through a narrow gap in an offshore rock spur, and the wheel spinned to avoid the sharp spine of another rock ledge.

I did not have that knowledge. I did not have that skill. They were not my hands on the wheel – something else had taken over as the boat slowly limped into the sheltered harbour after dark. I disembarked and walked to my house. I sat on the steps, as the storm ceased its fury and a crescent moon came out from the clouds. My reflections on the day were savage, yielding ugly truths I had long buried. I could take no credit for bringing the boat home safely. I thought of the furious sea as a piercing dirty grey, the color of dying – just waiting for me. I knew I had to put an end to my recklessness on the sea and in life. This was not where I was to be; either in this relationship I was trying to save or the location. The stressful drain on time and energy to travel back and forth between Canada and the Hebrides was debilitating. It left me with zero energy for my life purpose. Instead I was choosing the graceless oblivion that alcohol and depression permit.

I knew I had to emerge from the swamp I had created. This deadly sea voyage was the signal for me to embark on an intense spiritual journey. They were not my hands on the wheel. It took me a long time to realize that it was none other than Trailing Sky who saved my life at that instance – and on many other occasions.

It was no accident that on my return to Canada after the brutal sea voyage I first met White Eagle Woman at an elders gathering. She beckoned me over, looked me right in the eye and told me that she did not like me at all. Quite an introduction! She had been instructed by her ancestors to train me and it began straight away with an eight day vision quest. Her blunt introduction was a prelude to a thirty year period of training and healing under her guidance. She became a spiritual mentor and directed the shamanic process of my healing from childhood sexual abuse. This allowed the mosaic of the past to reveal itself. She also identified Trailing Sky for me and then taught me how to create a medicine wheel in my mind with a circle at the sacred centre. That was the location where I could dialog with Trailing Sky.

I also met a Rishi – a holy man from India who recognized me and insisted I go to India for spiritual training. I took leave from my university and spent two years as a yogi, where the spiritual treasures of India were opened to me. I also became seriously ill and knew there was a distinct possibility of death. I met this with calm and a total lack of fear. Huddled on a bed in an ashram in Mumbai, India – I opened my eyes to see one of my swami mentors. He said:

“We are so happy Ian that you have decided to die with us in India. And we will be most happy should you live.”

Lying there close to death, the lack of fear provided a sense of freedom. Trailing Sky was also there – constantly. She orchestrated all the energies to keep me alive. I later learned that she was there every time my life was at risk. That must have kept her very busy!! She brought me through to safety – time after time.

Trailing Sky is not an illusion, a projection that I am attached to. She is the ultimate Muse, constituting all that is now crystal clear within me. I am deeply humbled and privileged to touch this deep wisdom of transformation.

She said to me, “You have transformed all that you brought in with you and suffered from, You changed course and now have freedom and alignment. The person who stumbled blindly through the first part of your life is not the Ian walking through the second part of life. In India, Arizona, France, the Canadian wilderness and around the world you went to extraordinary lengths to deal with karma. Had you not done so – I would have to wait for several more lifetimes to come through to you. There were so many severe experiences, but you responded by moving in this spiritual direction. You touched a universal thread and that allowed me to close the gap – so I could keep my promise from 1777.”

The rest of my life is still a work in progress

 

Foreword Clarion Review of Redemption

Foreword Clarion Review of Redemption               

“An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity.”

A lost manuscript from 1975 reveals the depths of a sensitive man’s soul in this pondering look at life nearing a crossroads. Not until 2011 did Ian Prattis pick up his heartfelt novel again, a book he titled Redemption. Set in the Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland, an unpretentious locale steeped in regional culture, this story focuses on an eccentric yet down-to-earth protagonist named Callum Mor. Subject to individual understanding and loaded with the symbolism often found in parables, the book alludes to more than what is openly stated in the narrative. Like all interpretive fiction, Prattis’s writing will communicate a different meaning to anyone who attempts to analyze his carefully crafted words. Short but powerful, Redemption may leave a person wondering whether pieces of this tale were intentionally obscured, for the plot covers an extensive period of time from Callum Mor’s childhood to maturity.

An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity. In this descriptive passage, the devastated mood surrounding Callum Mor’s father can be seen and felt in contrast to the harsh elements of nature: “In the wake of the gale, the day had produced a hazy sunlight that made the reeds in the marsh glimmer, but the unexpected heat in the day could do nothing to warm the cold, vacant, deadness that now enveloped Andrew.”

As Callum Mor ages, he slips into abject loneliness and succumbs to alcoholism before he goes through a positive reawakening. Gentle, with a poignant affection for animals, this cosmically aware lover of God’s creatures seems to collapse under the brutality of man’s instinct to inflict pain. To a certain degree, this somewhat typical view of morality confronting immorality causes the novel to fall into a vague realm of timeless storytelling for any indefinable, poetic piece without a specific purpose. This does not detract from the literary quality, but anyone seeking an indisputable message will not find it here. In this scene, winter emerges as a villainous character: “The wind from the north soughed softly along the shore but froze any man it gripped. The cold stole into every door and numbed the hands and minds of those unprepared for it.”

Ian Prattis is a professor of anthropology and religion. A peace and environmental activist, he was born in the UK. Prattis has spent much of his life living and teaching in Canada. This moving and eye-opening book will be a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath a polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few want to acknowledge, either due to fear or simply because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth.

Julia Ann Charpentier

Available at www.Amazon.com  and www.BarnesandNoble.com   Autographed Book – Order Through: http://www.ianprattis.com/Redemption.html

 

Vietnam War Memorial

On a recent visit to Washington DC I visited the Vietnam War Memorial. The massive black granite slabs rising out of the earth with the names of fallen soldiers seared through me and I found myself in tears. The poem below wrote itself.

Vietnam War Memorial                                                                                Ian Prattis 

 

Gaunt with grief:

Motionless:

Stilled, Silenced:

Cold December day:

Grey and bleak.

 

I could not move:

Stunned:

Frozen in Time:

Unbelieving:

Damn it all!

Damn!

It!

All!

 

It was not my war

don’t you know?

They were not my people

don’t you see?

Do I protest too much?

 

Name engraved black marble slabs

rising from the earth

sear into my soul.

Burning deep to feel the pain,

of so many deaths, such futility.

Ball of fire flames my chest,

chills the marrow of my bones.

 

Subterranean edifice                                                                                                                                         hurts me awake,

transforms deep memories

for my own kind.

Fellow Humans.

 

Americans,

Vietnamese,

All peoples

caught in the sinister web

of dark and deadly shadows

that lurk in all of us:

Hate, Greed and Power.

 

I circle the profanity of war,

nerve center of our world.

Grimly aware thought:

Our world must be transformed:

Our world must be changed:

 

And we must do it.

Transforming ourselves

then others in swift urgency.

Else the memoirs

of our civilization

are no more than

Monuments To The Dead.

 

Our Dead:

Yours

And

Mine.

Practicality In Complexity

far reaching musing by Nora Bateson

norabateson

DSC_0996

How can we use knowledge of complexity in a practical way? I am often asked this question. I am confused by it. Practical at what level? By “practical” what is meant?

Practical to offer quick but un-systemic solutions?

Or practical to offer better understanding of the complexity of the context?

Executive decisions define our lives, and evidence based research with deliverables is required to back those decisions up. In this era substantive demarcations of what makes an effort worth the time and money it costs should be provided at the outset of a program. Consequently we see, in workshops, lectures, conferences, and universities, an insatiable appreciate for another pret a porter improvement program. There is always the next new step by step program ready to be sold with the promise of improvement for individuals, organizations and ministries. Usually they read something like The Five Steps to the Seven Applications… for…

View original post 1,299 more words

Dawson’s Desert Legacy

Dawson was a wisdom holder of many traditions – Ojibwa, Hopi, Lakota and the Native American Church. He did have a second name but preferred Dawson. He was a legendary figure in Central Arizona and left a lasting impression on everyone he met. I have encountered many people at conferences and talks all over North America and when it emerges that I have spent a considerable amount of time in Central Arizona desert country, I am always asked if I know a man named Dawson. He had met all kinds of people in his capacity as a guide and teacher. Yet his attention and presence never wavered in its intensity as he welcomed all into his orbit of wisdom and patience. I first met him in 1987 on a day long ethno-botany field trip he offered in the Sonora desert region of Central Arizona. I was the only person to turn up, yet this did not deter him. He generously extended his knowledge of plants and hidden sources of water in the scrubland of the Sonora desert. His field trip skirted ancient medicine wheels created centuries ago. He talked about plant cycles within the teachings of the medicine wheel for both ceremony and healing.

Dawson was a slender yet muscular man in his sixties, though he seemed to be much older. His manner was slow and deliberate, gentle but firm though his light blue eyes carried a steely glint that spoke legions. He loved movies and would always sit there in the cinema until the end of the credits rolled past and be the last person to leave. He would stay there with his eyes closed, making a point of downloading the full feeling of the movie. That was also how he was with people, animals and the desert. He brought a sense of gentle intensity and intimacy to every relationship. The initial connection from that first field trip and movie experience warmed into a friendship. I did numerous sweat lodge ceremonies on his property near the township of Cornville, though it was the desert that always drew him out.

One evening, two years after our initial meeting, I was basking in the outdoor hot tub of the Quail Ridge Resort in Oak Creek Village, having traveled down from Canada, when I received a call from him. He asked if I would pick him up two hours before dawn the next morning. “Wear hiking boots,” he said. I drove in the early morning dark to Cornville and found him waiting outside his house. I followed his directions to take various forestry roads leading to a reserve on the northern fringe of the Sonora desert. After parking we hiked for approximately thirty minutes into the desert scrubland.

It was still dark when he gestured that we should sit. He had a flask of coffee that he shared. We also shared the intense silence of the desert, interrupted only by the slither and scurry of lizards and small animals. As daylight slowly emerged he gestured for me to look in the direction of three large cacti directly in front of us. The sun rose and I could vaguely make out the flowers on the cacti opening. It was so unusual and surprising that I really did not see them at first. Then Dawson pointed them out. They were absolutely stunning in their unreal beauty, ranging from yellow to dark violet. We sat there for over an hour, as the morning sun rose.

“You had to see this before you travelled home to Canada,” were his only spoken words as we sat close to the splendour of the cacti flowers. But it was not yet over. As the sun climbed higher in the sky, it quickly became very hot. Out of nowhere a sudden hailstone storm was upon us. We put our packs over our heads and ran quickly to the shelter of the nearest rocky outcrop. The hailstone squall lasted only for ten minutes or so. The hail stones were not small, making quite an impact on any unprotected area of the body. Dawson looked at me strangely.

“That sure is some kind of acknowledgement from the past, and it aint for me. What have you been up to Mister Ian?”  Dawson said with a shrewd glance my way. I just shrugged, as I had no intimations of cause. We walked in silence to where I had parked the car. The hailstones were not to be found beyond a hundred yard perimeter of where we had been sitting. “Beats the hell out of me,” said Dawson, as he peered at me out of the corner of his eye. These were the last words I heard him speak. As was his custom we drove in silence. He got out of the car by his property, waved once and was gone. That was the last time I saw him. On a later journey in 1992 to that region of Arizona, when enquiring about him, I discovered to my dismay that he had been killed one year prior in a car accident outside Phoenix. I was deeply saddened by this loss, thinking about all that he had so patiently taught me. I drove to where I had last walked with him, to pay my respects to this extraordinary teacher, remembering the way almost without thinking. It was not the time for the cacti to flower but I treasured once again the gift he had shown me. The hailstone storm was still a mystery to me. I wondered who he had passed on his vast knowledge to. The very small piece I had received from him had been put into place in the hermitage where I lived, in the Gatineau Forest in Quebec, across the river from Ottawa.

            Over a period of five months in the spring and summer of 1994 I experienced very intensive shamanic journeys with an Algonquin shaman that I prepared for through fasting, meditation and sexual abstinence. On five separate journeys I met in turn and dialogued with the ancient shaman from the East, the ancient shaman from the South, and the ancient shaman from the West. Then, I journeyed to the ancient shaman from the North and finally to the ancient shaman of the Center. I figured at first that this was an experience with five facets of the same archetypal material from my deep unconscious – though there were major surprises I had not anticipated. Each shaman carried the force of a distinctive unconscious energy within me, though interconnected to the other four. In each journey I was always met by the same beautiful female figure, who then led me to the ancient shaman.

In previous writings I had stated that primary access to the collective unconscious for males in western civilization was through the female archetype, the anima. The significance of this scholarly assertion was right before me in the experience of being met by a female figure in each of these five journeys. Yet I did not make this connection until much later, when I reviewed my field diaries more than a year after these particular journeys took place. It was with an almost visible shock that I noticed I had missed something so significant. There it was, Carl Jung’s anima staring me in the face from my field logs. That intellectual insight was only a half-way house to understanding what was taking place. This “anima” was much more significant and had been incorporated into my training long before I was prepared, or capable, of recognizing the significance.

At my hermitage in the middle of Gatineau Park Forest in Quebec, I had a small circle of large stones in my front yard with beautiful ferns growing at the center. I had an overwhelming compulsion that summer of 1994 to build a medicine wheel with this circle of stones as the interior circle. I had been taught by Dawson the appropriate mind-state and procedure of respect to construct a medicine wheel. I had also learned the importance of the center of the wheel and I had planned this to be right where the ferns so beautifully displayed themselves. Dawson had instructed me about the central circle of the medicine wheel. It could only be truly experienced when connection to the sacred mystery was intact. The four cardinal directions, East, West, South and North, were the organizing axis for this ultimate fusion. At the time I did not know why I took the utmost care of the ferns in the central circle of stones, though Dawson had explained to me about the fusion of the mystery at the centre. It had sunk into my intellect only. It did not reach my heart until much later.

To construct the medicine wheel in my garden, I enlisted the assistance of two friends who shared my respect and training. We carried out the appropriate ritual, reverence and construction. As we proceeded on a very hot and humid summer’s day, a silence settled on all three of us in a tangible way. Something was happening inside and around us while we were creating this architecture of incredible grace, power and beauty. I had collected the stones for the medicine wheel from my garden and the surrounding forest. They were some of the most ancient rocks on the planet, the hard granite of the Canadian Shield, and were part of the very ground where the medicine wheel was being built.

After wheeling in fresh earth from the rest of my garden to fill in the four quadrants of the medicine wheel, we contemplated what had been created. I realized with a start that it was completely related to my five shamanic journeys over the previous months. The cardinal points of the wheel are the four directions, North, South, West and East, all leading from an outer circle to an inner circle at the Center.  The five ancient shamans I had journeyed to meet. It did not register with me at the time, but the beautiful ferns at the centre were an appropriate symbol for the feminine muse to deliver me to each one of the five ancient shamans. It took me a long time to wake up to that insight.  What I did realize, however, was that I had constructed a symbolic map of my internal experience. I was re-inventing the wheel from my journeys to meet the five Ancient Shamans, yet also ensured that the beautiful ferns remained intact at the centre of the medicine wheel.

I started to smile at how this medicine lore and knowledge had gradually seeped into my consciousness from Dawson. I could feel his intense blue eyes watching me at this moment and perhaps he permitted himself a smile too. He had known that I would eventually understand, and had instructed me five years prior in the precise construction of a mental medicine wheel and quietly informed me at that time about the space at the centre being the locale where I would seek counsel from the internal feminine – the beautiful ferns at the centre no less.

 

             

Why I Wrote this Futuristic Book

A 2016 release….

“New Planet, New World” provides a counterpoint to the demise of modern civilization. I chart a Beginning Anew for humanity, a communal Hero’s Journey to reconstruct society based on ecology, caring and sharing. This adventure is not without risk or cost, as power elites ignore their complicity in the destruction of life on Planet Earth.

The book opens with a lyrical and dangerous meeting on a distant planet later this century. The protagonists are from different centuries and cultures. From the 18th century Rising Moon is hurled by shamanic means to Planet Horizon in a nearby galaxy. From the 21st century Catriona gets there from a failing spaceship in an escape module. Wisdom of the Elders meets 21st century Hi-Tech. Instead of killing one another they choose to be blood sisters and embrace survival, accepting nature as a Matriarch. This fragile thread is challenged by the brutal abduction and rape of a main character, Sian the Celtic seer. Her inner strength, of being more than a violated body, inspires the community of pioneers who escape safely from the spaceship. They create a communal structure of living and carve out a home and life on the new planet.

Four Hopi Sacred Keepers offer their lives in a ceremony to enable renewal on a distant planet that none of them will experience. Mysticism combines with hi-tech to enable a Transfer Particle to seed the new planet and establish settlements. The expansion of communities is interrupted by a jihadist attempt to take over. A terrorist cell on Earth hijacks a spaceship and imperils the lives of the pioneers, who respond with tactical violence to kill them. Compassion is exercised towards sleeper jihadists secretly embedded in their midst. The stark violence of survival prepares a backcloth for three distinct love stories to emerge. Ethical settlements grow as a mirror for Tolstoy’s vision of “people of the twenty fifth century” – ahead of their time. The dark episodes and lyrical passages move the story along with action, fear, resolution, death, rape, bravery and exile in a futuristic opportunity for humanity. This action packed book ends on a philosophical note concerning our place in the centuries to come.

Intertwining plotlines arc into the epiphany of the final chapter, which muses about human survival anywhere. This end game is a philosophy of the future. The inclusiveness of science combines with Tolstoy’s vision, Pope Francis’ Climate Change Encyclical and not repeating the mistakes of the carbon cabal. The underlying message is from Tolstoy, the ‘Conscience of Humanity.’ He described humanity’s bottom line as the cultivation of love, the mainspring for authentic and responsible living.

I do not present this as idealism, rather as down to earth wisdom. That is why I wrote this futuristic novel. It is the final bookend of a trilogy – “Chronicles of Awakening.” Redemption is the first book in this trilogy that has Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the second book. The final tome of this trilogy takes characters from the prior two books, placing them in the future on a new planet. I place in the mouth of Dr. Tom Hagen a blistering rant to the UN in 2080 that I would certainly like to give from the future. It is about the willful ignorance displayed by corporate and government cabals invested in the carbon/oil complex, while eco militias murder in the streets and social disorder is a norm.

The First chapter describes tension then co-operation between Catriona and Rising Moon. Instead of harming one another they create a safe haven and save other young people ejected in escape crafts. The Second chapter documents the desolation of Planet Earth, the location of Planet Horizon and establishment of space stations on Mars and Jupiter. Chapter Three relates the destruction of the spaceship and safe landing of some of the pioneer travellers. Chapter Four is a love story and the search for children ejected in escape modules from the spaceship. Chapter Five provides vision for community building. Chapter Six is dark with the tragedy of rape yet permits the human spirit to prevail. Chapter Seven documents the flourishing communities established – Eco-villages and towns plus Wisdom of the Elders villages. The battle with jihadists in Chapter Eight is not for the squeamish. It ushers in the end of innocence and the beginning of wisdom. Chapter Nine is a tender love story, accompanied by Catriona’s shamanic preparation. The final Chapter Ten muses philosophically about human survival anywhere.

“Little” Moments

delightful…

going outwords & inwords

simpleconfucius

TRAFFIC JAMS

If you can practice patience in the traffic jam with a sense of humor
approach or whatever approach you want to use, you are training for really major difficulties in your life. So, it sounds silly, but actually, it’s true. If you’re sowing seeds of aggression in the
traffic jam, then you’re actually perfecting the aggression habit.
And if you’re using your sense of humor and your loving-kindness or whatever it is you do, then you’re sowing those kinds of seeds and strengthening those kinds of mental habits; you’re imprinting those kind of things in your unconscious. So, the choice is really ours every time we’re in a traffic jam.

– from Pema Chodron

View original post 847 more words