AFONDHU, BLACK RIVER
Extremely Limited Collectors Edition 13cm x 13cm black box. 25 Copies containing:
8 x art/text cards, printed on finest 180 gsm, Tintoretto Gesso
1 x art card with Black River graphic and a black stone found in the River Avon, Northamptonshire, January 2016
1 x Poem booklet, “Black River”
1 x Black Ribbon
Signed/Numbered on a sticker under box.
Available from Monday 20th June 2016
Paypal £10 + Postage and Packaging to : whitelineBN@aol.com
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During the time that I was compiling the written works that were to become Laments + Incantations (Place Editions, February 2016), I could not help but notice the abundance of places that I had walked through around the British Isles, whose names were prefixed with the word “Black”, or its derivatives, Blake, Bleak, Bleche..etc. This minor, yet tantalising revelation instantly reminded me of a segment in Alfred Watkins’ classic book, “The Old Straight Track” where he noted that the word “black” had a “..difficult history..” Watkins referenced a number of black place names, attributing them variously as marker points for high places, track names, names for a man on a ley, a tumulus, and numerous other nodes on or around ley lines, that appeared to have some significance in ancient Britain. Watkins further suggests that black, far from meaning “dark”, was in fact a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon blake, or blac, that actually means “shining, white, or pale”.
During the course of my research, I recalled a south to north traverse across Dartmoor some 25 years ago, in which I got lost in a caliginous region of the moor; a dark, fog-shrouded and boggy area, situated in close proximity to a forgotten Bronze Age site. Lost, cold, and very nervous, I decided to follow the course of a river, which I hoped would lead me towards a road, or inhabited area, which after a long, treacherous walk, it did, and I sheepishly returned home. An old black and white Ordnance Survey map that I discovered at the time showed rivers as sinuous black lines that intertwined and sprang from the moor, and it is from this hazy recollection that the inspiration for Black River emerged.
Afondhu, Black River is a series of short, incantatory texts that were written with the intention of publishing as part of the Laments + Incantations sequence, but which I decided would stand alone, and separate from that body of works. In his book, Watkins cites the work of one Hugh R Watkin, whose toponymic research concluded that “black” place names were most likely elements of the slavic “blag”, meaning “blessed, or light given”. This conclusion more than suggests that black sites, far from being dark, or demonic, were in fact places of special religious or spiritual interest. The Black River, therefore, might be conceived of as a liquid ley line, a powerful, venous, enigmatic symbol that courses through and intersects the black places, the ancient places of power and spiritual significance.