beneath the stream
20. Owl ~ mythology, motif and mastery

20. Owl ~ mythology, motif and mastery

January 9, 2020

An archetype, a creature that we impose human ideas, ideals, values and characteristics upon. An unknowable, untouchable creature of the dark, whose call provokes fear and awe. A silent, surreptitious, living breathing feathered predator, whose beyond-human abilities allow it to master the night and span almost every habitat on Earth. Which of these is Owl for you?

As a family of birds, owls are all of these and more, and we explore their role in human culture from 30,000 years ago to the present day, as well as sharing tales of owl encounters around the globe. Evil messenger and harbinger of Death? Wise councillor and friend from childhood literature? Owl can be what each of us bring to it but is also master of its world.

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Forest Eagle Owl 
Sinharaja, Sri Lanka 
Pliny the Elder
Tengmalm’s Owl
Florence Nightingale
Pablo Picasso
Winnie the Pooh
Bagpuss  
Tawny Owl  
Eric Hosking  
Ural Owl  
Sir David Attenborough  
Hawk Owl  
Saariselkä, Finland
Little Owl  
Chauvet Cave, France  
Eurasian Scops Owl  
Athena  
Harry Potter  
Western Screech Owl  
Hopi  
Sokoke Scops Owl, Kenya
Aztec god of death  
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee  
Barn Owl  
William Wordsworth  
Tlingit  
Egyptian Book of the Dead  
Great Horned Owl
Seminole Apache  
The Secret Life of the Owl, John Lewis-Stempel  
Great Grey Owl
Barred Owl  
Minnesota, USA  
Eurasian Eagle Owl  
Eurasian Pygmy Owl  
Pel’s Fishing Owl  
Blakiston’s Fish Owl  
Snowy Owl
Twin Peaks, David Lynch  
The Messengers, Mike Clelland  
Whitley Strieber  
Owlman, Cornwall  
The Mothman Prophecies, John Keel  
Mark Twain  
Elf Owl  
Short-eared Owl
Denmark  
Öland, Sweden  
Goldcrest
“In a hole with an owl” The Fast Show  

19. Wilderness 2 ~ is it beyond our reach?

19. Wilderness 2 ~ is it beyond our reach?

December 11, 2019

“What avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”, said writer Aldo Leopold, and in this episode we revisit what the human concept of wilderness means and where we might find it. Unmodified, unspoiled, on the edge? When in our history was the point when humans changed their view of wilderness?

With incidental music from Colin, we consider how wilderness means many differing things to different people - it is ‘home’ for some and hostile for others - and discuss what our view of it says about us. Is our definition derived from an International Union for the Conservation of Nature edict, or is it reflect - or even imposed - by the human approach to the way we make art? Ultimately, is wilderness still a valid notion or is it beyond our reach, beyond our gift to bestow, at a time when perhaps we need it more than ever?

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Jane Smith 
Marco Brodde
Darren Rees 
Kitty Jones
Chris Wallbank
Julian Hoffman
Beauchene Island, Falklands
Bay of Biscay, France & Spain
Pasvik Valley, Norway
Unst, Shetland
Spitsbergen
Hoo Peninsular, England
Dan Richards
IUCN wilderness definition 1B
Xia Gui - master chinese painter  
Old Testament
Paleolithic art
Sicily rock art caves  
Shan shui - master chinese painter   
Thomas Moran
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (painting)
The Sublime (artistic movement)  
Sewell Newhouse (trap maker)  
Industrial Revolution
Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps (painting by J. M. W. Turner)
Smithsonian, Washington DC
Aboriginal Australian art
Shoshone
Ansel Adams  
BBC Planet Earth
John Muir
Bushcraft
Aldo Leopold
Annie Dillard
Edward Abbey  
Kvitøya Island, Svalbard
Barry Lopez  
Of Wolves and Men
Jordan
Bedouin
All Things are Quite Silent (English folk song)
Franklin Expedition  

18. The Sea ~ a prelude

18. The Sea ~ a prelude

November 10, 2019

The Sea ~ a prelude 

Summoning the spirit of a forthcoming full podcast on The Sea, we tease with Rhett Griffiths reading an extract from his poem ‘The Tipping Tide’ (more of the poem and an interview to come), Colin singing ‘Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy’, plus wave-tossed thoughts recorded by the sea-washed shingle on the tideline of a grey North Sea.

All in rather lively STEREO by way of a change. Enjoy.

17. Wilderness 1 - with Dan Richards

17. Wilderness 1 - with Dan Richards

October 7, 2019

The way that people respond to wild places lights them up; so proposes writer Dan Richards, who’s latest acclaimed book, ‘Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth’, explores what wilderness means to us. In this podcast he discusses whether our response to wilderness is bearing witness to the traces of humans who have been affected by places that, in our imagination, are meant to be savage and untameable.

Does wilderness comprise the places where a writer can touch ‘other’? Be lonely? Feel alive? Escape human connection? Or see what the world would be like without us? These places change us, and with music by Dan himself and prompting from Colin - solo in this episode - together they ponder ultimately whether humans are entitled to go to these places that might themselves be irrevocably changed by our visits? 

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth 

Wealden Literary Festival 

Dan Richards 

Svalbard 

Ny Ålesund 

Polar Bear 

Climate change 

Desolation Peak 

Jack Kerouac 

On the Road 

Thoreau 

Walden 

Roald Dahl 

Francis Bacon 

Edward Abbey 

Gary Snyder  

Cairngorm Mountains 

Bothy 

Iceland sæluhús 

Mars Desert Research Station 

Cordouan Lighthouse 

Ray Bradbury 

The Foghorn 

The Signalman, Charles Dickens 

Roger Deakin 

Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers 

Oscar II Land 

 

16. Pilgrimage

16. Pilgrimage

September 12, 2019

From the North-west passage to Niels Bohr via Bruce Chatwin, Bardsey Island, Joan Baez and Blue Whales, our journey on this podcast explores the physicality, spirituality and ‘otherness’ of pilgrimage. Recorded on location on the Camino de Santiago in Asturias, northern Spain we ponder the meaning of this human act of endurance, faith and meditation.

What do we learn when we feel the earth on our skin and feel, and touch or reconnect to, something more: to meet the crossing points to our ancestors, or the migratory routes of birds, or profound non-human experiences. Accompany us and discover if we are in fact ‘nobody to the hills; just a body, feeling’.

With music by Colin Williams.

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Asturias 
Biodiverse 
Camino de Santiago 
Oviedo 
Cathedral of San Salvador 
Frédéric Gros: A Philosophy of Walking 
Satish Kumar 
Green lanes 
Croagh, Ireland 
Kumano Kodō, Japan 
Kumano Shan Zan 
Via Francigena, Italy 
Pilgrims Way, North Wales 
Holywell 
Bardsey Island 
Mount Kailash Circuit Tibet 
Matthew Oates 
Migration of birds 
Santa Cristina de Lena 
Swifts 
Shamanism 
John Clare 
Brill Building, Broadway 
Goffin & King 
Elton John 
Cafe Wah?, Greenwich Village 
Ellis Island 
Sicilian 
Black Mountains, Wales 
Bruce Chatwin 
Niels Bohr 
Quantum Physics 
Paleolithic rock art 
John Coltrane 
Joan Baez 
Bob Dylan  
Blue Whale 
Northwest Passage 
John Franklin
Michael Palin: Erebus 
Stan Rodgers  
Michael Meade: Fate and Destiny the Two Agreements of the Soul 

15. ‘Irreplaceable’ with Julian Hoffman - the fight to save wild places

15. ‘Irreplaceable’ with Julian Hoffman - the fight to save wild places

August 11, 2019

Recorded on Hampstead Heath in London, we take a journey into some of the most threatened places and habitats of the non-human world by talking with Julian Hoffman, author of the newly published and acclaimed book ‘Irreplaceable’. He eloquently weaves accounts of both loss and ‘radical hopefulness’ through the stories of the people working to save these places, and through our conversation we seek to answer questions about our relationship with the non-human.

Are stories becoming ever more important for us to navigate the great challenging environmental issues of our time? Why do locations become places of importance to humans? Why do some enlarge what ‘home’ means to them by including the non-human? How do we resist being divorced from the natural world by the those pursuing power and greed? How is it that children still engage with the non-human in the little details and small places unselfconscious about engaging with nature?

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Irreplaceable

Julian Hoffman

Hoo Peninsular

John Keats 

Mavrovo National Park - north Macedonia

Meteora monastery west Greece

Watford allotments

Wales

Gwent Levels

Wordsworth

Future Generations Act

Cairngorms

Jim Harrison

Václav Cílek

Serengeti

Great Expectations

David Abram

Nan Shepherd

Arctic Tern

Bangka island, Indonesia

 

14. Bear - totem and reality in Asturias

14. Bear - totem and reality in Asturias

July 6, 2019

There is perhaps no creature that better encapsulates our conflicted relationship with the non-human world. Think of the complex mix of ideas that we humans associate with bears in modern times: child’s toy; indigenous people’s power totem; the reality of human-bear antagonism; the fear of unpredictable predators; celestial constellation; Boston Bruins; Chicago Bears; Yogi; Goldilocks; the list goes on. Through their place for us in myth, symbolism, history and reality do bears ‘see’ through us, and in doing so allow us to see beyond our humanity and glimpse again how we are primordially connected to the natural world?

With music from Colin, and recordings from in the field in Asturias, northern Spain, amidst the mountains, screes, meadows and forests of biologically-rich Somiedo Natural Park, we explore the ideas that humans hold regarding Bear, whilst seeking an encounter for real with a being that is now scarce in western Europe.

With special thanks to Marco and Wild Watching Spain.

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Somiedo Natural Park

Asturias

Cantabrian Brown Bear

Grizzly Man movie

Grenadier Guards bearskins

Bear clan

Eight species of bear

Kodiak Bear

Romania Bears

Nicolae Ceausescu

Bears in Britain

Cave Bear

Grizzly Bear

Winnie the Pooh

Gentle Ben

Bear senses

Bear Totem

Spirituality and Bear

 

13. Sounds II - messages from the non-human

13. Sounds II - messages from the non-human

June 7, 2019

Nature, the non-human - and humans too - connect together in the world of sounds. We are all auditory creatures. However, how do we non-humans relate to what we hear? How do we experience these sounds and where do we store the images and memories we associate with them: in our heads, our hearts, our cells, or all of those?

With three chosen non-human sounds that mean something to him and spark discussion, plus his own music, Colin considers: the messages that the non-human shares with us; the difference between noise and sound; seeking being unsettled by a natural sound; how sounds herald other beings as visitors in ‘our’ world; and how we feel their presence. 

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Whale blowing 

Blue Whale 

Science of sounds as a sight 

Cockchafer / May Bug 

Emotional Reaction Model - Misophonia 

Echoic memory 

Dylan Thomas 

Love in the Asylum

Richard Adams

Watership Down 

Skylark 

Vaughan Williams 

The Lark Ascending

Thomas Moore 

Philip Hoare 

Cape Cod

Melissa Harrison 

Rain 

Hinduism 

River Ganges 

Mary Oliver 

At the River Clarion 

12. Ghosts in the Darkness

12. Ghosts in the Darkness

May 11, 2019

Night distorts the human world and, as we become separated from what is not human, is the night the way we reconnect with that experience? Sat in a final fragment of Dunwich’s 10th century Greyfriars Monastery, near a single tombstone of All Saints Churchyard, we record this podcast at night in one of the “most haunted places in England”.

With ‘A Natural History of Ghosts’ by Roger Clarke, filling our minds, we contemplate why should ghosts - whatever that phenomena might be - appear more often at night? As night ‘falls’ (or does it rise?) we consider the fears that we lay at night’s door, seen from the corner of one’s eye. A time of danger and the ‘other’, night is filled with terrors for modern humans.

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Greyfriars Priory 

Dunwich 

Brassaï 

Tarsier 

M R James 

Margaret Atwood 

Black Shuck 

Hobby Lanterns 

Marsh Gas 

Homer’s Odyssey 

Apochrypa 

Jinn 

A Natural History of Ghosts - Roger Clarke 

Bram Stoker  

11. Wild Wood

11. Wild Wood

April 9, 2019

“To enter a wood is to pass into a different world” said author Roger Deakin, and in this episode, recorded in ancient Staverton Thicks forest, we explore why it is that there is a history of humans going to the woods to grow and learn, and to travel to find ourselves, often by getting lost. Why is it a place of story-telling, of fairy tales, of childhood imagination?

Disorientating for many modern humans, is there a density of ‘otherness’ in forest, and is this why for us the wild wood is it place of fear but also a place that we love? Sit with us on a mossy fallen tree as we question whether these are places to hide, to escape and adventure, or ones to fear where the non-human - or perhaps human - is watching us.

THEME MUSIC BY DAVID ROTHENBERG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST http://www.davidrothenberg.net 

Some of the ideas and references we make in this podcast can be found here:

Blair Witch Project 

The Legend of Boggy Creek

Staverton Thicks 

Pollarding 

Gossip from the Forest - Sara Maitland 

Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak 

Grimm’s Fairy Tales 

As You Like It - William Shakespeare 

Walden - Henry David Thoreau 

Wood - Andy Goldsworthy

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorn 

The Consolations of the Forest - Sylvain Tesson 

Wild Wood - Roger Deakin 

Woodlands - Oliver Rackham 

Lord of the Rings 

Domesday Book 

Beowulf 

Białowieża 

Baka people 

The Witch - Robert Eggers 

Grizzly Adams 

Olympic National Park 

Massachusetts

Polish Jewish villages