Posts Tagged ‘yew’
There is a tree that I have been hoping to visit since I first heard of its antiquity – The Fortingall Yew. It’s not every day that I get to visit Scotland, and so while I was “passing through” I made a slight detour in order to seek this tree out. Actually I made one hell of a detour to get to see it, but it was worth it.
Fortingall is a small village lying within a caber’s toss of Loch Tay. The flat valley floor hides a number of beautiful secrets bypassed by the major road nearby, and taking the scenic route was a real feast for the eyes in terms of scenery. Or it would have been if I hadn’t been trying to manoeuvre the motorhome though lanes that were only just wide enough for it. I won’t be doing that again, I can assure you. So when we arrived at Fortingall Church I was pleased to see that there was a hotel with a public bar next door to it.
As we approached the yew through the churchyard we found ourselves being transported back through time. Inlaid into the floor are highlights from history and at the end is the yew tree itself, demonstrating its incredible age (2,000 to 5,000 years old). Now we were within touching distance of the tree, and I was keen to find out what this tree was capable of.
I was looking forward to Imbolc with an anticipation that couldn’t be contained. What with such a fantastic start to last year I was expecting an equally fate-filled day. Our first stop was to be Lud’s Church, a place that has had some significance for me since my Knights Quest began. However Gwas had a Church in mind and so, being one to follow the flow on sacred days I was happy to tag along.
We picked up a friend of Gwas’s, Mike and headed to the very close by church. As I stepped up the steps and through the surrounding graveyard I got a funny feeling. There were no shades here. Dowsing confirmed this intuitive leap. I asked as to the reason why and was led to a beautiful Yew tree in the corner of the church-yard.
I pondered as to whether I could find a use for being in this bright and fresh church yard and got an answer of, Yes. I was led again to the very same Yew tree and decided to spend some time under its eaves. Several moments later I felt a wash of energy trickle down my back and into the ground. I knew I had been energetically cleansed. Again my dowsing rods confirmed this. Thanking the Yew tree for its help on my journey. We went on to Lud’s Church
Kal Malik – off to a cleansed start
-dom suffix denoting condition or state, as in freedom, wisdom state of being free, wise, passing to the sense of domain, realm, territory
I have noticed that I have passed into a sense of a domain, too. I have passed through one state of being – always learning – into a state where knowledge is beginning to coalesce and interlink. In my previous state of mindfulness my synapses fired randomly, seeking out links but finding few connections except coincidence. Recently, these coincidences and seemingly random pieces of information have begun to weave themselves together using the wyrd of the world until I can begin to travel like a spider along their fine and newly-formed threads to reach junctions, correlations, realisations.
I believe that what I am noticing is a passing from one stage of druidry into another. I have begun the move from neophyte to initiate. Oddly for me, at one level this means moving into a tutorial role – I am beginning to come out of myself in order to teach others the beautiful things I have found. That’s partly what this blog is about – you get to travel with me on my excursions and to be privy to some of the secrets that I uncover. This year has already shaped up to allow me to teach people on a one-to-one basis too. I am in the process of setting up a web site from which I will be contactable for tuition or consultancy. A major step for me. There is also the promise of two dowsing courses to be taught this year. Another prospect I could not have considered last year, and not simply due to modesty, but to a true belief that I was not in any position to teach yet. Now I feel more confident about it.
Stages of Learning
When I began my learning process I thought that there were only the three traditional stages of druid learning – the first being Birch, then Yew, and finally Oak. These three trees do indeed seem to have framed my first three stages of learning. Now I have reached the Oak stage I think things might work a little differently to what I had anticipated. This is certainly not the last stage of learning, so one of three things may be happening:-
- The spiral begins again and I go back to the Birch level, but at a higher state of learning, and I learn in more depth the lessons that I needed to undergo at that stage, and so on the the other two stages too.
- The Oak stage is further sub-divided, like the divisions in martial arts when the student reaches Black Belt, and an area of specialisation begins to develop. This would mean that the Oak stage could then continue indefinitely as more and more skills are refined, or deepened by further learning.
- There are other trees to learn from and thus many more stages to go through before I reach any level of competency. In some druid systems there are twelve (zodiacal) or twenty sacred trees that could all symbolise (indeed ‘personify’) teachers in their own right.
At the moment my intuition is that the last idea feels the most correct for me. I feel that I will develop an affinity for other trees at various stages of my druidic training and that I will learn skills and lessons from each of them at some time in the future. However, both Kal and I have noticed that we are moving around in spirals of understanding, so maybe there is an element of the first concept happening to – that we are going back to things we thought we had learned but learning more about it at a higher or deeper level. It’s all very intriguing. Only time will tell.
As it stands now I have passed into another level of freedom – the freedom to be more …me. This is the “IS-DOM”. I am more assured of my knowledge and how it all works together than I was only last year. This is the coming of the “WISDOM”. However, there is no end to the learning process, that is another aspect fo acquiring wisdom – knowing that you know little, and offering everything you do know to anyone because you have established your sense of self.
Why am I telling you this? Self-promotion? Glory-hunting? Fishing for compliments? None of that. Reflection. If you too are in my position then it may be time for you to stand up for yourself, be proud of who you are and who you are becoming. On this path of Druidry may you discover your inner Is-dom and forever walk the eternal path toward Wisdom.
Please tell me your feelings and thoughts on your own progress this year. What are your hopes, expectations, and how have you felt yourself grow? What do you think about the stages of druidic learning – which feels right for you and why?
Gwas Myrddyn, Hedge Druid, growing in his gnowing.
I think that this was my first ever conscious experience with what we now (Winter 2010) call Energetic Shrouds. Inevitably it was in the company and guidance of that majestic The Ancient Yew that this experience or lesson unfolded.
Gwas and I had arrived at the church late one evening and as usual I wandered over to the Yew tree to express my love of this wonderful creature. As I stood under the eaves and communed with it, I got a message straight off the bat.
“There is a lesson for you in the graveyard below, it’s dangerous but worth your while”
My relationship with Yew has been so trusting that I couldn’t refuse a “worthwhile” lesson, so taking up my rods I asked them to guide me to the place where this lesson was in the offing.
See? You just have to appreciate the versatility of dowsing with rods. Consider, if you got that message and had no rods to work with, where would you go?
I followed the rods as they weaved there way down the path and along its side to a point close to the flowing river. They then took a slight left and crossed over a place where there was a bench. Was I to sit on this bench? Yes. So I sat on the bench and wondered what this lesson would be. As I pondered I began to feel as if energy was slipping out of me.
Ever since I was initiated into Reiki, whenever I am exchanging/sending energy out from me my palms start heating up. This is a common feeling amongst healers particularly those who have been Reiki attuned.
As I said, I felt this energy draining from me and wondered what and where it was going, not only that but it felt disconcerting to have it just flowing out. So I grabbed the rods and determined where the energy was going. It was to the nearest grave, some 5 feet away. What a curious thing. Was something taking the energy from me? Yes.
Intrigued, rather than frightened (in a graveyard, at night), I querried as to what was doing this draining? Was it an entity? A energy being? Elemental? Or any other type of sentient creature? No. Some more pondering and intuitive guess-work and I came up with…
A shroud, a memory, a replicant
I further specified this answer with “not the spirit of a person”. A Shroud? The energetic remains of a living person. The concept was entirely new to me. Of course we have the biological remains, buried or burned. But the Energetic remains? I had thought that that passed on and/or was the spirit. Apparently not!
I sat back down on the seat and pondered this truly revolutionary idea. As I looked across the graveyard, I sensed rather than saw little willo-the-wisps, energetic leavings dotted about the place. I wondered why I had come to this one in particular and not any of the others that were floating around? The answer came immediately, there is not enough energy in them.
Didn’t the Yew ground these energies (months ago we had dowsed that a Yew tree grounds the – what at the time we said were spirits – but now might be changing to energies of the dead)? Yes it does, but visitors leave scraps of energy that we use to manifest. I stopped, “we”? It was then that I realised I was communing with this shade. I also felt a nudge from the distant Yew, It’s stealing your energy I came to myself and quickly struck up some protection and as a after thought gave the shade an energetic slap (never done that before).
I felt more solid but could still feel the thing hanging around, it was telling me that it had other knowledge and secrets to impart but I was feeling drained. it had done a good job on me whilst I was sat in the seat. Then I realised that of course, with the seat being there people would be resting on it and thus providing this shade with its meal-ticket.
I got up and walked warily and wearily back up to the Yew for some grounding of my own energies. Fortunately I was able to get back to some semblance of normality before we departed this place of interesting lessons.
Kal Malik – Definitely on the Edge
PS: Here are the original notes of this experience:
- Yew – you should do it, its dangerous, but it will be a good lesson
- finding the grave – by a seat
- letting the energy flow – or seep out – it feeling un-natural
- “something” accepts the energy
- what are you? a “shroud”, a memory, a replicant. not the spirit of the person
- Something interesting, willo-the-wisps dotted across the graveyard, energetic “leavings”
- why didn’t i go to one of them? there isn’t enough energy in them?
- doesn’t the Yew ground you all? Yes, but visitors leave scraps of energy and we used that to manifest
- getting a call from the Yew, “it” stealing energy, giving “it” a slap
- are you alive? no, we cannot grow, we just fade
- Why did I come to this grave? A sense of the seat is indicated. because people sit there and i have “picked up” some of their energy
- Another attempt to steal energy and an insistence to stay and ask more. Time to depart
- Energetic break, feeling drained
I see that a combined team of Manchester and York University archaeologists have uncovered Britain’s oldest house to date in the ever-more-fascinating Star Carr site near the seaside town of Scarborough in the North East of England. Julian Cope was referring to Star Carr many years ago, long before many people were even aware of its significance (check out his S.T.A.R.C.A.R. track off the Autogeddon album). Talking of album references – the title of my post is a passing reference to the title of The Fall’s latest album, which I recommend to anyone from Bury. I’m not from Bury.
Back to the thin strand of information that I refer to as “the plot”. The plot thickens. This old house that they have dug up contained some well-preserved items in the trench that they sank into the coastal soil, and what they pulled out of the treasure trove were some interesting items, from a druid’s perspective.
1. An antler headdress
This dates the use of ritual antler horn headwear to around the age of 8,5000 B.C.E. That’s quite some precedence for a ritual that only recently dwindled in popularity! Some would say that it is still continued in the concept of the “stag” weekend that prospective grooms undergo throughout the northern hemisphere cultures.
“The site has yielded far more possessions than would have been acquired by bands of hunter-gatherers on the move. They include a boat paddle, beads, arrowheads and antler headdresses, suggesting rituals developed alongside domestic life” (source: The Guardian)
To me this backs up what a lot of Celtic shamanism writers have said about the rituals of early tribal shamans. It would appear that the rituals (that may have included dance, drumming, initiations and rituals) are about as old as the post-Ice Age human civilisations that began to re-establish themselves in the northern hemisphere after the retreat of the ice caps. Shamanism from the outset, it would seem. Magic at the heart of social life.
John Matthews has this to say about the deer totem:
“The importance of the deer among the Celts is testified not only by the number of appearances it makes in the mythology, but also by the astonishing number of words used to describe it. It was also seen as a magical creature, which could lead one into the Otherworld, and often appears in the guise of a beautiful woman who can take the shape of a deer at will…There is evidence of a deer cult, in which the animal was worshipped as a goddess. The deer thus represents travel to the Hollow Hills or the faerie realm, shapeshifting (the perception of the world from different viewpoints), and the natural deer-like qualities of grace, swiftness and keen scent.” (source: Chapter 3, ‘The Celtic Shaman: A Practical Guide’)
2. A preserved tree stump
The discovery of a large trunk from an old and sizeable tree shows us that the veneration for trees is also as old as the hills.
Again, this reverence for trees hints at some form of shamanistic lifestyle, and who knows how long that lasted, for the Druids of these same islands carried those same items of devotion through into their history, such as we can understand it.
“The population also appears to have respected venerable trees. One of the team’s other startling finds is the trunk of a large specimen with the bark still intact, which was spared from the flints used to carve the rest of the settlement’s timber.” (source: The Guardian)
We have no information yet as to what type of three it might be, but it would not surprise me that it was a yew tree, possibly one of the trees that symbolised the concept of The World Tree – the omphalos or navel, the central point around which a settlement was constructed. Rather than this being something left alone, it could have been the centre of attention. Just a thought.
OK, chastise me if you will, I have been away from this blog for ages. That is not to say that I haven’t been having adventures. Quite the opposite. Many exciting and revealing times continue to pass my way on a almost daily basis.
I am going to have a monumental go at catching up here! It seems a task that may be beyond me. Instead of going back in time and trying to recall my adventures. I will start from this point in time and work my way back and forward. Good luck to me, I will need it.
Those who are keeping up with our adventures may recall that over the last two years I have gained a few “names”.
The first was “Edge Wizard” and I was given this in a rather unusual way in the forest of Wizards in Alderley Edge Cheshire. I didn’t know what it meant at the time but since then it has become more clear and focused as we shall see.
Ostensibly at the time I thought this was due to my explorations at the edge of normality, which as it happened was true…see below.
About a year or so after this christening I was given the name “Spirit Walker” which I gained as a title at that wonderful old Yew tree in Llangernyw, Wales.
At the time I was given this moniker I was exploring “Death Energies” a truly fascinating exploration of the border between this life and the next. As readers will know it was an uncomfortable and rather scary journey.
Early this year I was given another “nom du guerre” this time it was the odd title of Wand Maker. Again this naming was in that wonderful forest in Alderley Edge.
Enthusiasm in following this “new” path was initially filled with exciting discoveries and possibilities as demonstrated by this website I set up…The Wand Maker blog.
I have been puzzled over the last week about what was going on with all these namings and what they meant for my path. So I had spent some time meditating on this subject and finally the frustration of not getting anywhere had me off to a source of wisdom. Ye oldie yew!
Yesterday, I arrived there in the early hours of the evening and entered the quiet gardens with determination and a list of questions.
Here are some of the answers that were forthcoming…
- If you lack focus and intent, answers are given in accordance with your state.
I was given these names because that was where my thoughts were at the time. Looking back this makes sense, since I was in a period of mourning the passing of my mum when I first became seriously interested in Death Energies.
- The initial name was the best descriptor for me – “Edge Wizard” – the other names are a reflection of this name.
Spirit walker is the exploration of the Edge of this world and the next. As I was given to know at that time but had forgotten. In the experiences I gained at the yew and since. It was/is to gain an understanding of “energy” from a transitional perspective. If we imagine a Venn diagram…
- a point in-between
A is life and B is death or existence on the other side. This trip to the Yew garnered that whist we are in life our exploration can only concern the life aspect ‘A’ and the ‘A+B’ bit.
- What of the “B” or existence after life?
The answers I got for this is that it would be fruitless to explore it, In Castaneda’s terminology the “B” lies firmly in the Unknowable. Exploring only leads to confusion and answers that do not make sense. I guess this falls in line with the so many confusing and conflicting tales about what it is like in the after-life.
- How do the other names fall in line with Edge Wizard?
It seems obvious (as it always does after the fact) Spirit Walker is the ‘A+B’ part of the above and Wand Maker…helloooo! “Wizard”? It seems that dowsing energy has non-temporal properties. Thus the naming is something that we can become.
- Where does this leave me?
Focus, the absolute key for me at this time is to focus. Co-creation has a key component of focus. I had this really funny experience at the Yew this time.
I saw a car driving along a long road, like the American highways. As it was going along bits were falling off here and there. I saw sign posts along the road which said things like “Goals This Way”…
It was a puzzling vision. Obviously it was telling me that I should or was heading towards my goals but why the breaking up of the car. As I watched this “drama” unfold I got a close up of the car. It had a sticker on the side with the word “Intent” written on it.
After receiving this vision. I wandered to the back part of the Yew Garden to “walk the path of understanding”, which effectively is a wonderful walk-way between the graves but has been very useful in walking and dowsing for understanding of visions.
I got the idea that although we can have an intent which propels us towards our goals (the car) if we don’t look after our other energies then our intent becomes useless (or broken). What are these other energies (that were falling off the car)?
Our every day thoughts, our physical wellbeing, our energetic well being, everything we do has energetic consequences. Emotional being, what we eat and drink. All these things to some extent have an effect on our being. So if we don’t “fix” these then our intent suffers.
What an analogy! I wonder how my brain (Yew Tree?) comes up with these? I am curious because I thought I was pretty good with all this “life balance” stuff. So my questioning/dowsing continued and I got that I was. Actually I was way better at it than a lot of people (ego?)
- Was this an ego thing?
Apparently not, being “good” at balancing is like being good at art or science. It has no value basis, as in being “better” than anyone else. Phew!
So I have been pretty good at this balancing stuff, well what were the bits falling of the car? It seems that I am on the fine tuning side of things now. Having got rid of the major issues I have now to deal with the fine tuning.
- The verdict?
Carry on as you are McDuff! Be confident that “you” are on the “right” path for “you”. Can’t say fairer than that!
Kal Malik ~ Edge Wizard!
It was a beautiful late summers evening when Gwas and I decided to visit one of the oldest trees in the world. Recently I had been speculating on setting off on a journey somewhere in the world and thinking of combining this with some energetic exploration I thought I would visit, what I thought would be the oldest trees in the world, those giant red-woods in California.
Blessed be the Internet as a swift Google search took me to a wiki which suggested that one of the oldest tree’s in the world was but a an hour or so away from where I lived, in North Wales.
And so it was that Gwas and I set off to visit this wonderful 4000 year old yew tree.
We arrived at the churchyard in darkness and were pleasantly surprised to find the gates unlocked – which precluded the need for Guerilla dowsing. As is quite normal for us now, we both went off on our seperate ways looking for meaning that was individualistic and personal.
As you look at the above picture you can see a path to the right which leads beyond the magnificent tree. Well, following this path leads to a gentle slope down into the major part of the graveyard (which we will visit during the day sometime to get some pics). This part of the graveyard has a path around and through it which will be of import later. As another aside there is a lovely river that flows along the right side of the church too. Please look out for my next post regarding some of the energies of this particularly fabulous site.
Almost upon arrival I wanted to do a meditation with this age old wisdom and so after minimal exploration I dowsed for the best place to sit whilst meditating and came up with a spot just beneath the canopy of the tree facing towards the camera in the above picture.
I sat cross-legged and let my mind and thoughts relax. In no time at all I felt the warmth of the Yew settle around me and visions flowed. To begin I saw this really large trunk of a tree in front of me. It was huge and as I looked up at it, either I shrank or it grew bigger, I don’t know which but this tree was at least sky-scraper tall.
As I examined this huge tree I realised that is trunk was split into two. Not all the way to the ground but perhaps half to three quarters its length it was split. As I wondered about this splitting and what its significance might be my perception changed and suddenly I was looming over the tree, which now seemed to be the size of a small plant. Now I could clearly see the split and it looked like the tree was almost cloven in two. This view was presented for a few moments before my perception switched again and I was some small insect-like creature attached to the trunk of the split tree.
Now that I think back to the event it was like I was being given different perspectives of the situation. But what each of these mean is lost to me now as it was then or at least the greater detail of it is lost.
This reminds me of a tale from Carlos Castaneda’s work. At one time Castaneda went to visit a Brujo (shaman) without his Mentors permission and knowing. The Brujo saw that Castaneda had the power and so gave Castaneda a powerful gift. Unfortunately the truth of it was that Castaneda only seemed to have the power and so the Brujo’s gift was totally wasted.
– smile – perhaps I seemed to whatever was presenting the vision to have the power but in actuality I didn’t or don’t?
Whichever the case I was being shown (from several perspectives) a tree that had been split assunder. As time (I don’t know how much, how can you tell?) passed further illuminations came.
Some sense came to me to tell me that I was the tree or perhaps that the split tree represented two paths for me. I was told that I could either take the left path and become a spirit walker or I could become a worldly person.
My confusion over this decision was compounded by my lack of understanding as to what was meant by the paths description. Ever helpful? I was further shown – or rather this was a kind of feeling – that the spirit walker path was a lonely path. It was a path that would be and allow me to walk amongst spirits. To be honest I was scared by the proposition that it was a lonely path. Although the devil-may-care attitude along with a good dose of curiosity was somewhat compelling. The other path was one in which I would live a worldly life, materialistic and semi-normal.
What a decision to be faced with? Talk about the red pill vs the blue pill dilemma?
Even as this musing was going on my sense of perspective was still going through the trinity of views. It was at this time that another piece of tree wisdom came to my mind. Am I not the “Magician who creates his own worlds?” surely that must weigh into the equation? As you can see I wasn’t fond of either of the alternatives – hmmm whilst in the meditation I believed that these paths were real for me. In hindsight I could have just chalked them up to an interesting visualisation.
Ok, again I dont know how much time elapsed in the above dilemma but after some time I decided to become an active part in this visualisation.
As a side note – ever since I can remember I have had the ability to change my dreamscapes. By this I mean whilst in the middle of a dream I have been able to consciously create things I needed or change the aspects of a dream to my favour.
So, I said out loud but still in meditative (commune) state. Can I not have a combination of both of these – have my cake and eat it – is I guess what I was asking. I was then taken to the view of me standing over the tree and seeing it cloven. Then I (or something) took some rope and bound the two halves together, also as this was happening some green sludge like liquid was being poured down the crack and I saw the tree become slowly whole and one. Also I could sense that I was peerring into the future now, meaning that the process of healing had started but that it would be completed in the future. I was given to understand that I had to bring the two paths together myself – and that because I was a “Magician who creates his own worlds” I could do this.
I know it sounds really corny or whatever you want to see it as – to be honest I wouldn’t bother revealing this whole episode because of what you the reader might think – but then I realised – I don’t really care anymore – it stands as it does!
After seeing the tree become whole, I wondered whether that was the point of the vision from the start i.e. that it was a duality that needed to become whole rather than two paths that could have been chosen? I don’t know – but I am a believer in co-creation and self-determination and that it seems is what I did.
If you think that was weird what about this…
My vision hadn’t finished with me it seemed as then I was taken on another one. This began with this world, the world we live in with all the strange para-normal stuff that it encompasses. I then somehow grew or expanded out of this one and into what I can only say was the world of the afterlife – stay with me – my sense of understanding was that the dimensions were layered. The Earth plane was an inner plane (like onion layers) and the spirit one contained it, or was an outer layer or sphere. I could see the differences between the two – but I cannot remember them now.
But…whilst I was expanded to the outer realm I knew or could sense that there was a sphere beyond even that one. So I tried to expand myself higher into this third realm. But couldn’t even though I tried a few times. When I gave up I got a kind of answer…you can only expand to the third sphere from the second not from the first. (below image taken from here)
Yes, I know cloud cuckoo land? Maybe I don’t know I am just reporting what I experienced. If your asking whether I think this latter vision was true? Well, today being Monday I will say, yes. Tomorrow however is a different day!
Paths of the dead
With that final vision it seemed that the connection was done and I was left to ponder what I had experienced. The latter sphere vision had and has me confused as I dont know what it means or what relevance it has to me. Nil point!
The first however had lots of intriguing answers and so I was off to the aforementioned path at the bottom of the churchyard to walk and dowse some meaning out of the visions. My conclusions came to the following:
- That I have a choice – you dont have to accept what you are given
- That I had decided to opt for a combined world rather than a singular more focused path
- That the tree was symbolic of me and that I needed to work out how to synergise the two halves.
I love that churchyard, with its Yew and its Graves and its flowing river and for the two times we have been there – its wonderfilled starlit sky. Although it being a graveyard – there is absolutely no sense of badness about it. We have dowsed in other graveyards and felt uncomfortable as if we disturbed the rest of those therein. But here we were welcomed and befriended by spirit and tree, water and earth, moon and star.
Where has the matter been left?
This visit to the Yew was around early September, if not late August of 2009 and since that time – although it has only been 3 months – ha – who says time flows fast?? Much work has been done on myself – in particular see this post from Samhain – and there is, as always much more to do. I am welcoming the transformations and journey everyday!
PS – here are the notes I took the night I returned:
- beautiful moonlit night
- finding the meditation spot
- a tree splitting down the middle
- size perception going weird – from something small clinging to the bark of the tree to something huge and the tree being as small as a plant
- the two paths – spirit and wordly – choosing one path
- binding the split tree and pouring healing fluid down its center – the fluid was a green sludge
- combining the two paths (parts of the tree)
- secondary vision of the afterlife
- seeing life as being more than the living world
- going to the next sphere that encompassed the “spirit” world
- knowing that there was another sphere beyond the spirit one
- trying to “grow” beyond this third sphere and not being able to
- wandering along the “paths of the dead” whilst (dowsing) and trying to put all of it together
- coming to an understanding that “i have a choice”
- choosing to merge the two paths (heal them) rather than become a spirit walker
- postulation: was the tree symbolic of me and did/do i need to synergise my spirit and non spirit halves?
PPS – speculation: was this just imagination. I would have taken it as quite possible exept for one point…why wasn’t i able to grow beyond the third sphere – if it was just imagination I should have been able to.