Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Magician, Her Hat, Tea Leaves, And The Shadow of Byker Wall

A post about the reading of tea leaves.  This is the fourth and final post of short pieces that were written in Writers' Cafe sessions this week.

Personally I don't believe in the power of the tea.  I believe in the power of the reader of the tea.  Not to read the tea of course.  But to see into a situation and form ideas and pictures based on that situation and upon human psychological skills to instinctively see or cognitively analyse and comment based on what's in a person's head rather than what's left in their tea cup.  I believe the same about other methods of divination and analysis too, from palmistry to tarot to numerology and the roll of dice.  Feel free to disagree and ascribe power to lines and cards and leaves or to a mystical, prophetic guide who places the leaves and cards in the right order for a situation.

I've been to a place sometimes and we've drawn cards to represent our lives.  Everyone goes "Wow!" at the interpretations given.  The next week we're there again.  We draw different cards.  Everyone goes "Wow!" again.

Have all of our lives changed so drastically in the course of a week?  I don't think so.

Divination, I believe, teaches us of ourselves.  It can be useful - or it can be dangerous.  Sometimes it's just a bit of fun.  And on occasion, a rarity, it can be a writing prompt.

So it was at the Writers' Cafe.  Each of us had our tea leaves read.  With mint tea because the leaves were more varied than those of the tea tea in the cafe.  The woman who runs the group read us.

Here's my cup.  I ask you.  What do you see?  A friend just saw a cup that needed cleaning.  Another friend saw Jesus - but she is a Carmelite lay sister so she sees Jesus in many things.

Our group leader saw a magician with a wand.  She decided that the magician had lost her hat.  She said other things too but as a writing prompt the magician appealed.  Can you see too?

Here's the writing, the same words as were freely written in not many minutes at the end of our session.  I gave myself a D minus for it.  People seemed to like it though.  That, I suppose, is magic.

Byker, for those who don't know, is a district in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  A children's programme was set there but not filmed there.

Byker has a wall.  The wall contains 620 flats and homes and encloses the Byker Wall estate.  The whole place is architecturally famous and is now Grade II listed.  Fame doesn't imply beauty of course.  Some very ugly places are listed.

Some will speak of the estate in terms that say "Abandon hope all ye who enter" and imply that just walking into that estate will lead to a consequence somewhere between losing your possessions and losing your life.  Others speak of the estate in terms that say "I really like it here.  There's an amazing community and loads of artists."  I find I have friends there.  It's not a rich estate.  The millionaires live in other parts of the city.  And it's had its problems.  Every impoverished city estate does.  We were told when moving to the city, "Don't, whatever you do, move to Byker."  We were taught to fear a dangerous ghetto behind the Wall.  It must be admitted that crime levels in Byker are higher than those where I currently live.  The crime map for that area has more than twice as many reported crimes as the map for this area.  But most people of course are just getting on with their lives.  And there are loads of good people in the area too.  Yes, including artists.  Including friends.

It took me six years to enter the estate.  And at that moment I fell in love.

The magician lost her hat.
But somewhere, under the shadow of Byker Wall,
Her magic will be returned to her.
In the Wall is life.  In the wall is death.
In the Wall the elemental gods play together.

Under green wood and rainbow rooftops,
Among addictions and artists,
Within the underclass and dispossessed -
The purest of humanity.
Above Tyne waters returning to ocean,
Full-felt, full-flung source of Poseidon's blessings.

Through sacred seclusion, close community,
The magician will not find her old hat.
But she'll weave, spin, breathe a hat
Fine enough that the original may be gladly forgotten.

Replaced, reborn under Byker Wall,
The magician will learn to speak.
In the new beginning was her Word.


  1. Thank you very much. I'll find out whether it's all true soon. I'm going to be moving there in the near future and wonder what variety of hat will be breathed. It won't be under the shadow of the Wall - but only because the shadow mostly falls outside the estate. Inside there is light.


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