This blog has been such an interesting journey for me so far. Because I am looking at my things with a view to capturing something of how I feel about them in a photo, all manner of memories are coming to the surface as I go along.
This morning, I was tired. Bone tired. Doing far too much yesterday and then not enough sleep in the night before being awake again. I tell myself that I am practicing for the clocks to go forward this weekend. I do wish we could stop that business now. Maybe we will now that the USA have decided to abandon the practice.
When I find myself in this space, my thoughts turn inward. As I was sitting on the sofa with my cup of tea, I decided to light incense and candles and just sit with the peace these things sometimes help support in me. I don’t know, Buddhist monk in last lifetime? Anyway, I find them soothing. The morning light hit the smoke as it wafted toward the ceiling and I grabbed the phone. I love trying to capture a fleeting moment and I really love messing around with the photos on my computer afterwards to see what else I can see in the management of those photos.
Incense is such funny stuff. I remember the first time I encountered it. Growing up in a Protestant household, incense was something you needed to seek out if you were going to experience it. How this came about the first time was when my Mother gave me the Chinaman. Here he is:
Mom told me that Mr. Chinaman had belonged to her Mother who had been given it as a child. My Grandmother, who we all called Meemo ( a “non-Grandmotherly” sounding name- in her opinion) had an uncle who was well travelled and who used to treat her to various things throughout her life. I don’t know, but I suspect her Uncle Ivan may have had a hand in this one. Whatever the tale, he was mine now. Mom explained that he was holding an incense burner and that when real incense was lit and put inside, the smoke would waft out from his little burner. I had never seen incense, so we set off to try and find some.
Where I grew up in the 70s, there was a fascinating shop in town that sold all manner of candles, incense, black lights, and any other groovy paraphernalia from that era that you could think of and this is where my Mom decided to take me. As with the rock polisher (see 22nd Mar), I think she was curious and this was a good excuse to go and have a look for herself. The shop walls were covered with pop art posters and the black lights that illuminated them turned them into psychedelically altered visions. I remember I was wearing a white cardigan and the colour that became under the black lights was thrilling!
Ha! We didn’t get out much.
I don’t remember much else about the shop, but I do remember the smell. I think the cops kept a pretty close eye on the place so I doubt if there was anything more exotic than was strictly legal about the ambiance of the place, but it was certainly heady. We found the little cone incense shapes that were meant for the Chinaman, made our purchase and departed, slightly goggle-eyed.
I don’t think I had ever seen such an extraordinary thing as later that day when my Mom showed me how to carefully light the incense and stick it into the burner through the special hole in the back. I am guessing I was about thirteen or so and was trusted with matches and the responsibility of making sure the Chinaman was sitting was on something heat safe and stable. I hope Mom got joy out of watching me use and appreciate him because I really did think it was just the best present ever.
The little burner and the incense that went with it were the start of a ritual for me that plays out all over my house. I like to create little places of repose here and there, places where I can just sit and ponder for a few moments, think and breathe. While deeply spiritual, I would not say they are meant to be religious places in any way. They are just little vignettes that encourage stillness. Stillness and quiet are where I find the Spirit inside of me.
The Chinese character in the scroll says simply, “Peace”.
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Your description of O’s most prominent head shop is spot on. The store is still there, probably still looks the same, and definitely still sells much the same paraphernalia. Heady experience—great pun.
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