The Meaning of Anam Cara

March 25, 2018

moon and trees

In the Celtic Tradition there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend”. In the early Celtic church a person who acted as teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your inner most self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara your friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul”. There is no cage for the soul. The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your other. This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship. In his Confessions, John Cassian (360 – 435 AD) says this bond between friends is indissoluble. “this, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot separate.”

John O’Donahue
Mysticism from the Celtic World

Pain & Pleasure

March 18, 2018

I can feel every cave in your paradise,
I know every wisp of smoke in your memory
I can catch my breath
on the back of your neck
and I want to keep you
forever warm.

We’re not just touching
we’re exploring
the colours wrapped in
a wheel of me and you.

You pull me up the slope
all I can see is hands and skin and thundering need

Your torture rises to my peak
Our sounds dip and curve to the beat
Our pleasure, our pain
is the kingdom we’ve won
sheer desire we both welcome
with open arms.

We are each other’s cracks and
bleeding weaknesses,
we lift each other up
on pure sinful wings
And after all we’re breathless

We rise as one, crash to earth,
our bodies glittering with the chaos between us

Together we are everything,
we are nothing,
tangled in each other
and breathing for each other
and gasping for everything we could be

we are so much more now.

Maya Hanson

Girls night out

March 16, 2018

She wore blue eyeliner
to reflect her wistful mood
satin black mascara
to mask her empty soul.
Smoky grey eye shadow
to create the illusion
of a picture perfect life
in its premier role.

She slips on stilettos
to reach Aquarian stars
a matching evening purse
that holds her veiled details.
Applies red to her lips
as if her fire was not enough
and a mysterious smile
in case all else fails.

Out into the cool night
walking behind her bright dreams
searching for a heaven
she has long lived without.
Dancing to the motions
moving to tomorrow’s song
singing the hopeful promise
of a girl’s night out…

Evening in the city
posed in suggestive essence
starring and acting in
her unreality show.
Sweet perfume lends its taste
in the absence of honesty
spotlights create the shine for
vacant eyes that glow.

Empty heart bears armour
weapons that smile and glean
preparing to do battle
for love she holds in doubt.
Act One, Scene One is set
for the romance of her life
the curtain slowly rises
for a girl’s night out…

Tina Culp Barton

A Vampiric’s Lust

March 4, 2018

eyes the colour of gold
there is a story that must be told
a passionate soul that is true
could i be the one for you?
within the darkness of night there is a secret i must hide
could you be the holder of my pride?
through the paleness of life,
you will never let me bring down my knife
with you buy my side i may never die
because i make you form a gentle sigh…
you tell me i have no strife
but what is the point of immortality if you deny yourself the simple pleasures in life
the immortality i declare is not the answer so beware

Aubrey Silver


In my teens in London, I inhabited a world of toyboys, tarts, porn merchants, and neo-fascist entrepreneurs – people who taught me that everyone has a ‘price’. Ultimately, individuals were no more than commodities to be purchased, used and sold on at will.

It was a twilight world of shabby boozers, stripclubs, and massage parlours which were staffed by young Afro-Caribbean girls (over time these would be replaced by petite Asian girls, and trafficked, big-boned women from Eastern Europe).

Here people were darlings, luvs, wooden tops or berks. And drinking was a major part of social interaction: starting on Saturday morning at half-ten or so and continuing through the course of the day, often into the next; Bacardi and coke, Vodka and lime, whiskey (usually Bells but occasionally Glenfiddich)and draught bitter.

It was a world of Nigels and Tonys and Antheas, all bright young things on the make, social posers. There were other layabouts like myself, too, some of them talented: artists, sculptors, poets, writers who lived in tatty one room rents and chain-smoked Senior Service and drank Hirondelle by the gallon.

There was, I recall, an air of unreality to everything then.


I lived two separate lives: I had done so since my fifteenth birthday. I had created two very different personas for myself. Two masks which I wore to deceive others. At school I was introspective, hesitant, sullen – but rebellious too, at times, and frequently punished because of that. I hated school; I hated the teachers. I played truant whenever I could, and instead of school I’d go to the cinema.

Then there was the other ‘me’, my street persona: the one who was a little flash, who dressed well, spoke well, but was cynical as hell. The one who was in the game to win!

Memory of those times is vague – as if glimpsed through age-misted glass. After leaving school at sixteen, I found a job and place to live which I could just afford. It seemed the world was all crisp November evenings then. I’d turn on the light in my shitty bedsit, read a book, beer amber in a glass near at hand. Or sit at my typewriter and strip my soul bare. I’d first started writing at seven or eight years of age. Building new worlds for me to inhabit. Day dreams on paper. Writing was my escape from this terrible world grinding on its axis.

My main typewriter was an Adler, a sort of ‘don’t come back again’ gift from my father. The first story I typed on it was an alternative history of world war two: the Nazis had found a way to regenerate the old Norse Gods and heroes, who in turn unleashed Götterdämmerung on the unsuspecting allies. Dark flights of imagination. Here there be demons – I typed the manuscript for ‘Summer births, Winter deaths’ on that same Adler, much later, and Tom Leary took a chance on me, saw something in the poetry –


Then I encountered Sphene for the first time. She worked in an antique shop, and it was mesmerizing to watch her there. The way she moved. Like there was silent music in her head flowing its rhythm into her limbs. The flick of a slender wrist. Then turning towards the light from the big windows to gather up a vase. Natural grace in her legs and hips. Moving as if she were weaving visions of past and future, this beautiful young witch – And I sensed she was playing a game; a game whose rules were unknown to me.


Later, although I’d only seen her that one time in the shop, my thoughts kept returning to Sphene. I think I was a little in love with her, or my idea of her. But then I was a creature of faddish passions: at around the age of thirteen I had seen a film that included a pair of twin sisters, fourteen or fifteen years old. I fell immediately, irretrievably in love with those two girls. I really did. I saw a second and third performance of the film that same day; couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the cinema to go home. Went back to the cinema every afternoon for a week to watch the film again; to watch my two girls.


Sphene had one of those young-old faces you see from time to time: a narrow face, you know? Delicate in a way – with those big brown eyes that never seemed to quite focus on anything she looked at. She was lean as a rake, too.

By chance I encountered her at the Arcade one Sunday afternoon. Keough was with me and he knew her well. They’d gone to school together, apparently.

She was playing the pinball machines. When it came to those machines, according to Keough, she was tops. The original pinball wizard. Or, Witch –

Keough said to me, ‘She’s part machine, man, all Meccano nuts and bolts, that’s why she’s so good at pinball; why she gets so many free goes!’

It seemed she spent her life in constant motion like one of those silver balls from the pinball machine, ringing bells and flashing lights, a smouldering cigarette in the corner of her mouth. She wore this huge green velvet hat and favoured old fashioned ankle length dresses. And she’d pay for one go on that damned machine but play all afternoon for free.


Sphene would turn up at parties like a late arriving shadow. She could move so quickly, make everyone else appear slow, lumbering. It was her way, but other women resented her for it. As if she were the perpetrator of all their individual misfortunes: their guilt, neurosis, what have you. As if it were all her responsibility. And Sphene’s outbursts of wild laughter at inappropriate times only made this situation worse. But she didn’t care.


She could talk, too, could Sphene. Words poured out of her like spilt liquid, and you’d have to wonder what was going on inside her head. You know? Keough told me that in her last year at school and without any prior warning she shaved her head.

Created quite a stir.

‘She had this thing tattooed on her skull,’ Keough said. ‘Honest to God, it looked terrible. She called it a sigil. And we all thought she’d finally lost the plot –

‘I asked her “What’s happening, Sphe? Why you got that ink on your head?”’

‘It’s for protection,’ she said. ‘It’s magic.’

‘You looked better with hair,’ he said.

According to Keough she seemed to consider this awhile, then said:

‘Last winter I saw these icicles dripping off the back gate frame. It was after that snow we had. Remember that? Well I watched them drip on the path which was all covered in snow. I broke one off. I don’t know why I did it, I just did. A long spiky spear of ice. Then I found myself writing with it in the snow. It was like something was driving me, I couldn’t control what I was writing. And what that icicle wrote was a warning – ’


‘I knew I had to act – to heed the warning.’

Her hair grew back over time, hiding the evidence of her magic.


Sometimes talking to her was like walking into a wall of white noise. Your brain’d reel under the weight of her words; like taking a wrong turn down a dead-end street.

In school one of her teacher’s said she had ‘cognitive disabilities’. But that man was a prat-and-a-half. She had powers, did Sphene. She could whisper to pinball machines and make them her friends. She could wish real hard for things and make them happen – just like real witches do!


I remember Keough’s birthday party over at Carpenter’s Park. Sphene arrived looking like a cheap tart: bright painted lips, so red they looked inflated, and dark blue mascara round her eyes like a feckin’ panda.

‘How’s it going?’ I asked her.

‘Okay,’ she replied. ‘But I have difficulty keeping the dead away. Their shadows steal into my bones when I’m alone at night – ’

I had this unexpected vision of black shapes on the wing, dark shadow birds with razor beaks, filled with crackling bone-heat. I felt strangely uneasy. She hadn’t even had a drink yet.

‘Would you like to fuck me?’ she asked. Just like that; straight out with it.

‘Yeah, I would Sphe. I’d like that very much…’


She could scar rooms with her presence, move like a ghost and see things no one else could see. She could also fuck like the Whore of Babylon.


Hobson Monk, raffish, one time bankrupt, divorcé, lived in this mansion of a house in Moorpark, not too far from the golf course. The place was full of antiques – like a feckin’ museum! Plush wall-to-wall carpeting. Hob owned the antiques shop where Sphene worked.

He said to me, ‘I know what it’s like when you’re young and just starting out. Tough, eh? Hard to make ends meet. When I left art school I was penniless. Ended up selling my backside at Piccadilly Circus, you know? The Chicken Rack, where all the young rent boys used to tout for business. That was my world, believe it or not.’

‘I had no idea…’

‘Why would you have? Selling my body to randy old queers, helped pay for my business. It was how I started out. Sex work. I gobbled off some very rich and famous people in my time. But don’t get me wrong, I’m heterosexual, you know? I had girlfriends back then, too. But they were for fun, the other was for money.’

‘I see.’

I had been invited unexpectedly to Hobson’s home that Saturday, the invitation delivered to me by Sphene. Of course, I’d met the man a number of times before in his shop. He was okay; down to earth. One of the good guys – except where money was concerned! Then he was an absolute tosser.

He invited me to one of his Saturday night parties. ‘But do come alone, yes,’ he said. ‘Alone people will see you as available.’

He said, ‘People tend to shag indiscriminately nowadays. However, discretion is everything. Take my little parties. Sexual deviants here, there and everywhere. What’s important is things that happen here, stay here. You know what I’m saying? I know lots of odd people, but they trust me. We maintain an illusion of probity. And that’s very important – you catch my drift? Silence is golden.’


‘If some old shirtlifter wants to have a quick fumble in your pants – well, what the hell. Either tell him “No thanks” or give him a price. You know what I mean? It’s no big deal.’


It was at Hobby’s parties I learned there are times when no matter what the position of your body your soul is on its knees.


I was young and slim and smooth. Desirable and androgynous, with a winning smile. A very old head on a very young body. And London was full of people with cash to burn.


One Friday afternoon in Ruislip, after a walk beside the Lido, a middle-aged vicar took me to his home and sodomised me on the marital bed. I lay, face buried in the pillows, watched over by a photograph of his wife who was visiting her sick sister in Croydon that weekend. When the vicar finally ejaculated up me, he recited the Lord’s Prayer in a whisper near my right ear. He had been ‘introduced’ to me at one of Hobson’s parties. He said his name was Colin, and that he’d fallen half-in-love with me. ‘Boys are for pleasure,’ he said to me. ‘My wife is a duty – ’


These men I met were generous. They had money enough to finance their lusts; their aching desire for young cock over-ruled common-sense. Pot-bellied most of them, middle-aged, greedy: their mouths would enclose flesh, sweetmeats, tasting like Faberge made edible. I was gorged upon in any number of cheap but discrete hotels. My life began to consist of nothing but these casual, random acts in dead bedrooms, where the silence dripped and crackled with orgasmic moans from old, half-parted lips.


A Surrey solicitor, in his luxury home, watched me in his hot tub, totally and unashamedly naked. I allowed him to ‘molest me’, to grope and pinch and squeeze. He believed me to be fifteen years old, hence underage. He persuaded me to suck his short fat cock. He paid me the equivalent of five months rent on my tatty bedsit.


Welcome to hell.


Then one day Hobson said to me, ‘We’re going to be married, Sphene and me. I asked her and she said yes – ’

‘Really?’ I felt like I’d just done a belly flop from the high diving board at the local swimming baths. ‘Congratulations.’ I drank vodka tonic and managed not to pull a face. ‘She’s quite a girl.’

‘She is, isn’t she?’


How old was Hob? Fifty? Sixty? Sphene was twenty years old. This was crazy.

‘He’s old enough to be your dad – older!’ I said to her a day or so later.

‘Age isn’t important,’ she said. ‘Not really.’

‘You love him then?’

‘Love?’ She looked puzzled. ‘Romantic love? Isn’t that something invented by men to keep women in their place? A form of bondage we’re expected to submit to? I like Hob. He’s done a lot for me. Helped educate me in the ways of the world. And he’s wealthy, too, of course. A rich man. So, yes, I’ll marry him. I can think of worse husbands to have – ’


Sitting upstairs on the bus after leaving Sphe, I gave an involuntary sigh. It was like I’d gone out looking for my pet parrot and found it dead and full of maggots. The stench of it reminded me of what once had lived. What I’d once held in my arms. A world so full of possibilities, now turned feckin’ sour.

An old man sitting a few seats away started talking to himself. After awhile he began to shout through the window at pedestrians on the pavement. It was peeing down outside.

I felt lost, totally lost, and wished I’d never met Sphe. I sat looking out the window at a blotch of colours, bright lights and a mess of blue-black sky, while the old man yelled ‘wankers’ over and over again at no one in particular.


Six weeks later, just before ‘the big wedding’, I travelled with my old portable typewriter back to Paris. My aim was to remain there for a couple of months, sort my head out, write some masterwork: an instant, international bestseller. We all have our dreams, don’t we? Eventually, I took a job in a small bistro – washing up, cleaning, that sort of thing. And I lived in this shabby shite-hole nearby, with views of a cobbled courtyard and the open air toilet at its centre.

After six grotty months, I quit the job and did some travelling: all over France to begin, then Belgium and Holland. Seeing the sights, doing the full tourist bit. It was okay.

My mother collected dolls and musical boxes, so in Holland I purchased a pair of dolls in national costume and a ‘musical’ windmill for her. I’d been away by then for over a year. I was running out of money. It was time to return and ‘face the music’.


Perhaps, deep down, I had some hope of seeing Sphene again? Perhaps, too, like Young Lochinvar, I had a dream, a fantasy of whisking her away ‘this young love of mine’.

But no. This was never to be.

Shortly after my return to London, I learned from Keough that Hobby had sold both home and business, and that he and Sphene had relocated to some island paradise in the Caribbean – there to live happily ever after.

I had always seen Sphene as a young woman with the devil on her shoulder, constantly fighting the darker side of her own nature. She had often spoken of her ‘place in the sun’. Well now, finally, she had it. And I was glad for her.

It goes without saying that I never saw Hobson or Sphene again. Although I do often wonder what became of them?


Shortly after that I met another, much older witch who lived in a house full of shadows and madness on Hampstead Heath. She, it was, took me to an outdoor Sabbat, my first; she, too, was charismatic and dynamic, and promised to teach me to grow beyond myself –

She was a very strict disciplinarian when it came to her craft, believed in the mystical properties of intense feeling, was a dedicated connoisseur of all pleasurable things. She taught me to see that fulfilling my own physical needs and desires was as important for my self development and growth as meditation or similar spiritual practices. She, as High Priestess, initiated me into her coven, with all its strange outbound rituals –

Sex was something that happened between us. We had sex with each other and with others, sometimes together and sometimes separately. She taught me that sex had spiritual dimensions and overtones, and I still firmly believe and experience that to this day.

I never again had to ‘sell myself’. But I did give myself freely to others, to people I wanted to ‘be with’. I did learn what it was to be ‘loved’ and to give love in return. And yes, my sexual tastes can be quite dark at times, some might say perverse – so feckin’ what? I am what I am. So enough.

Understanding each other without speaking. Wonderful.

Four or five pints on a Friday night in the company of good friends is eminently satisfying –

I love moments of silent submission –

Her apple breasts 
Beneath her vest
Will taste the best

He’s sure…

The natural flow of wetness
He hopes to taste once more…

I love doughnuts –

And pizza –

Oh! and chocolate – food of the Gods! Ambrosia! Conferring immortality! Carried to us by clouds of doves –

I love bringing people together –

My love of Merlot is almost legendary. The amount I consume puts Dionysus to shame. It is the elixir of life –

Go bring to me a pint o wine,
And fill it in a silver tassie;
That I may drink, before I go,
A service to my bonie lassie…

Robbie Burns loved a drink too, eh?

Coffee, too, is essential for continued wellbeing.

I love people who daydream and talk to themselves; I love them because they are here, and yet elsewhere –

the sea licks the thighs of the earth
and the earth surrenders
in utter pleasure…

Sweet as sin

February 27, 2018

He holds me in his mouth
and I think – for once –
my body is not an object.
He holds me in his hands,
pulling skin between fingers
and I think – I am
the goddess I was named for.
I have never before been
worshiped by a man and now
I feel his name echo
through the catacombs
of this once dead body
a thousand times over.
Sweet as sin, steady as prayer
tumbling past my lips
when he lays himself at my altar.



February 25, 2018

The past, your lesson
The present, your gift
The future, your motivation…

Venice, Unaccompanied

February 24, 2018


on the train, I thought

we were attacked

            by light:

chrome-winged birds

hatching from the lagoon.

            That first day

the buoys were all

that made the harbour


pennies sewn into a hemline.

Later I learned to live in it,

            to walk

through the alien city —

a beekeeper’s habit —

            with fierce light

clinging to my head and hands.

Treated as gently as every

            other guest —

each house’s barbed antennae

trawling for any kind

            of weather —

still I sobbed in a glass box

on an unswept street

            with the last

few lire ticking like fleas

off my phonecard I’m sorry

            I can’t

stand this, which

one of us do you love?

Monica Youn

an imaginary mirage

February 22, 2018

Love is one of the great instruments of magical power, but it is categorically forbidden to the Magus, at least as an invocation or passion. Woe to the Samson of Kabbalah if he permits himself to be put asleep by Delilah! . . . Sexual love is ever an illusion, for it is the result of an imaginary mirage.

Eliphas Lévi
Transcendental Magic