by Vivian Darroch-Lozowsk



In Antarctica, I was separated from the world by a ring of water: tumultuous indigo seething.

In alchemy, there is an uncertain art of hydromancy: it teaches how to see in water closed and sealed letters, and persons who are travelling in distant places. Paracelsus defines this operation as proceeding from the constellation of the new firmament by means of imagination.

There, I prepared carefully to practise this art. On each landing I began to sip the cold ice seawater. I would cup my hand full with water and swallow it before I would begin my gaze of the ocean. The salt always burned my lips. At first, I would choke on the water. But I wanted to become one with it. I also believed that if I metabolized this brine my body would preserve what I would see. I A wanted to see anything, flecks of sun, the sprung offspring of the virgin, visions of A manyness. I wanted to see what ‘it is,’ Antarctica.

I did not see other travellers, but after a while I saw strange A formulaic ‘words’, signs of an invisible order. I would sit on the shore and watch them float into the liquid shore-space, or I would watch the open sea from topside of the ship and look out for them floating just beneath the transparent water-surface. These signs appeared as A negative/solarized images. I knew their source was A virgin-Antarctica. I knew instantly their translations.

I do not remember them all.


In Antarctica, except for the last day, ice crystals and clouds always separated me from the sun. Inversely, they joined me to my eye. So much was in-substantial. And this is the triumph of the insubstantial — that there is so much of it.

Except for the last day, the sun, when it was visible, appeared as a soft pale glow. Its cycle was annular.

What is the meaning of the word ‘around’, the disclosure of orbit, of locating this continent not on an x/y axis, getting unborn, the inside-out ‘prospect’ …


I have read many works of Antarctic science, geography, and politics. I have viewed drawings, maps, films, the diaries of polar explorers. But what ‘constellates’ at the south pole? Waves of light and water. Cosmic dust. Elsewhere A in my travels I have stepped over ‘the threshold’ into the ‘watching’ world and for an infinite moment I became transit (the larger sphere): but this time here I am that which is transited. And so, here I am the smaller sphere A

twining images

silhouetted understandings



Is ink more sacred than blood? A

When I was in Antarctica I often sensed that I was somewhere where nothing is. There, I had vaguely remembered how the alchemists had repeated the act of creation in their laboratories. I had determined to try this after one of the landings. I carried a small glass of water up the gangway. With the other hand I accepted the glass of mulled wine which the steward always offered us on reboarding. This time I did not drink it. Without stopping to remove my lifevest, I walked through to the port side and found a secluded space. I placed both glasses gently on the deck and let the water and wine absorb the polar light. I hoped this gesture would concentrate the liquids in some way. I knelt beside them. Using the point of my pocket knife, I lifted a drop of the red wine and let it fall into the glass which held the water. There was red fog and red darkness on the water’s surface. After a few moments I put in two drops. A Light came through the darkness. I waited, then I put in three drops, four drops, five drops, six drops. Then I stopped. I do not know what the alchemists saw when they performed this experiment.

I saw form’s motion, a misty atmosphere, red and silver threads of light, and dark purple at the entre which suddenly burst into an ignis humidis. lens an eye

I let the mixture stand for half an hour, watching it all the while. The alchemists were correct: when this time period was over, all that I had seen beginning disappeared.



Vivian Darroch-Lozowski has had the privilege of travelling widely (not as a tourist) before the world entered its present globalization period. These experiences allowed her to consider the deep nature of humans and to attempt to understand our human relations with each other and with all other life. Some of these experiences are recorded in her works. Her writings and visual works cover different genres: scholarly, literary, creative non-fiction, artist books, painting/drawing, and film. She is a Professor Emerita with the University of Toronto and now lives and works In Moose Jaw, Treaty 4 Territory, Saskatchewan. Her recent project, with the help of others, was returning 160 acres of agricultural land to natural prairie with wetlands and placing these acres under conservation. It was this and her daily walks in the Wakamow Valley, along with her internal-sense-memories, that contributed inspiration for the thoughts and writings she has gathered in Searchlights in People’s Hands, her most recent work published by Penumbra Press.



Since 1979, Penumbra Press books have been garnering praise for both their content and their elegance. We are confident that you will find much that is similarly rewarding in the handful of new titles I will introduce you to in the coming weeks as we celebrate our 45th anniversary.

As a small press publisher with a niche in northern and aboriginal subjects, we are offering a slight deviation from the norm with this season’s titles, looking both to the past and to the future for an understanding of who we were and who we are as global citizens in a troubled world.

The first 45 individuals who order books from our website will each receive a gratis copy of Volume 1, Then & Now, in the Bookmark Readerity Series, Readers & Writers on Books & Reading, which I wrote for Dan and Marlene MacDonald, proprietors of Bookmark in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Please visit our website, penumbrapress.com, or email me at john@penumbrapress.com for assistance in finding the right Penumbra Press book for you.

— John Flood, Publisher & Producer   john@penumbrapress.com


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All of our Links:    https://linktr.ee/freedomiscallingyou