Archives for category: patterns

Asttrophytum Myriostigma – Star Plant

Since childhood Ive always had a fascination for the cactus. why I’m not clear but whenever i saw a cactus i would gaze at it for long observe its special architecture different from plants and wonder at how it survived. i always treated it as some kind of pet animal that had presence but didn’t move or make a fuss. As i grew older I examined this strange fascination. The cactus never asked for much, no daily water and strong in all weathers. It knew the art of survival. Nightly it would quietly absorb carbon di oxide, then as day dawned it would use it to photosynthesise with its fat succulent stems which stored water to produce its food. It hardly grew and had spines to ward off predators and catch the first morning dew drops in a desert with no water or rainfall, which would then trickle to its roots and quickly be absorbed in the fat succulent stems. What a wonder of a creature i would think. So self sufficient and self reliant sitting still like a yogi in meditation. It did grow imperceptibly thickening its water filled stems protected by a waxy coat to prevent water loss, always looking plump and happy never withering like other plants with neglect. Its architectural contours were perfect round with pretty shapely stems and the spines. In many cases these spines looked purely ornamental than to ward off people. I loved my little cactus and daily gazed at it trying to communicate to its desert soul. If you water a cactus daily it will die. Its that kind of strong hardy plant that does not like pampering. So I would give it sunlight not keeping it on my desk table and water  once a week. It thrived and grew. Like a fat pumpkin. Im sure it was aware of my loving presence. Then one surprising day i noticed a protuberance at the top, a kind of boil. As i watched daily it grew into a thick bud quite out of keeping with its general make up of stems and spines. It assumed a brighter green colour and finally the bud grown real big burst into flower, my happiest moment. no small flower but a lotus like big single flower red and yellow and bigger than the cactus. a miracle of nature. It said to me I’m happy and sexy. The flower remained for a month before it had done its purpose and fertilised its ovum, then it dried and fell away. The happy cactus then grew fast and became double its usual size. It was for me always like a dear pet.

Then I began my crazy pursuit of other cacti. I went to distant nurseries to collect all species and brought them home. My family thought i had gone crazy. Opuntias with yellow and white thorns, with a character of their own, succulents of all kinds and my favourites the globular spineless ornamental type. My favourite was the Astropfytum Miriostigma translated as starplant with several dots. It was a grey blue smooth stemmed plant with few spines and a myriad pretty dots on its sexy fleshy stems which were parted in four. Then one of the Opuntias taught me a lesson. my vision suddenly blurred. The eye doctor said you have a ‘thief’ in your eye. One of the hairlike spines had travelled and implanted itself in my cornea. He surgically removed it and said i had better get rid of the Opuntias. so i did.

Then decades later in my retirement i saw some globular cacti in a nursery and brought two as pets. They give me no end of pleasure. A mystic astrologer remarked, these are not just plants but souls so you better look out. Its not considered auspicious to keep them. I didn’t care, if they are souls they must be the friendly type.

Some of my favourites:

A poem inspired by my unusual fascination for these plants:

                                          THE  CACTUS

Halls of ochre butcher as they chase

One drop.

Not one insect spared but splits

In parching,

Sound of dry grass crackling,

Eyes thaw in ochre dust.

Like a dwarf sits the cactus.

Awkward limbs but affection in the interior,

Soft pulpy green-walled translucency

Where the moisture drips.

But without,

Its challenged thorn-lusty prurience grapples

With the desert’s grip.

Hate is an outer armour,

Love’s moisture is in the stem

And there is proof for when

The desert awakens in the rain,

Bulbs of chlorophyll

Explode in monsoon blooms

The milk pulp making fissures on the ragged skin;

Blood red hues, hibiscus violet

Flowers fed on milk. Then

How large the hidden heart

Bandaged in bristling brutality

For survival.

And now is the time of seed’s revival;

Another need brings the dwarf’s art.



Photo Credit:


There are patterns everywhere. In my mind, there a  a pattern of thought. In the seed, a pattern of growth. In the solar system a pattern of circulation. In the elements, atomic patterns. Mammals have a pattern of suckling, birds of laying eggs, lizards of slithering, plants of rooting, flowers of coloring.

The snow crystal has a striking design. The sugar crystal repeats the same pattern. The British is pastel and lace, the French, perfume and chiffon, the Indian a riot of symbols, the Chinese, pagodas and green tea, the Japanese bow and karate. You have your own style of holding and gesturing. Europeans abstain from using the tips of their fingers in gestures designed to be dexterous and utilitarian, Indians insist on the tips as in the ‘Mudras’ of their dance. The grocer artfully drops his sale with a flourish into a brown paper bag. The fascinating fingers of the sales woman on the key board of her cash box, the tellers reflexive counting of bank notes, the conductors flitting musical staff, the different patterns of acknowledgement, denial, culture.

The law of the land, crystallized pattern; physical and natural laws inflexible pattern; dogma and ideology, firm pattern;  genetic growth, unerring pattern; seasons, designs, repetitive patterns; systems, solar or circulatory, circular patterns; fashions and vehicles, changing patterns; birth, death, rise and fall, graphical patterns; progress and development, evolving patterns; language and writing, expressive patterns; logic and symmetry, mathematical patterns; character and personality, individual patterns; finger prints, chromosomes, unique patterns; policy and strategy, directional patterns; style and panache, sophisticated patterns; war and weaponry, destructive patterns; literature and art, creative patterns.

Patterns surround us, are with us, emanate from us. Our wisdom grows as we learn to recognize and assimilate patterns. As we learn of the more obvious visual patterns, we begin to gauge the less obvious ones and as our sensitivity to patterns develops, we begin to comprehend hidden and more subtle patterns till we are so full of patterns that we generate a unique pattern of our own, in an act of creativity.

The patterns that envelop us must arise from some more creative source, even as our own arise from us. At the centre of the Universe an inconceivably creative force must send out the patterns that govern the universe, introducing shades of colours, timbres of sound, aromas of smell, depths of feeling and a range of tastes – countless patterns radiating to fill creation with order, dispelling tha vacuous anarchy of nothingness, infusing and instructing pattern into the paternless, dispelling nihility, vacuity and emptiness with the infusion of pattern, allowing new space and dimension for more patterns, overtaking disorder with purpose, disciplining, ordering, making reliable and more predictable, through the patterns of creation.


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