And We Are Trying By Nicholas Roerich

A tribute to Nicholas Roerich

Inspiration from a past generation

Roerich is known for his paintings, but a little research reveals the man was so much more.

An inspiring figure, he was an explorer, anthropologist, mystic and philosopher.

Nicholas Roerich

Born in Russia in 1874 he left during the revolution and followed his heart, right across Asia, documenting what he found and always seeking Shambala, a magical home.

He may never have found Shambala, but the observations that he made of people and countries on his many journeys gives an insight into life so close to nature that it feels shamanistic.

Roerich encountered Buddhism, a door leading to inner and outer spiritual worlds, and he reflected such mysterious imagery in his startlingly colourful paintings.


Roerich’s life is well documented and his writings are available, yet nothing can beat a trip to the house where he lived the last years of his life in the Kulu Valley in India. Like a modern day pilgrimage, arriving at Roerich’s home village, Naggar, is thrilling. The sense of place is hard to beat as the village sits in the mountainous region below the Himalayas.

Roerich’s home on the mountainside above Naggar village has been preserved as a mark of respect for a man who sought to protect culture during wartime and who documented his encounters with remote people.

Banner of hte Future 1925 by N Roerich

On his quests for the mysterious, he painted many pictures and wrote diaries, airing his opinions and sharing his observations. For a man of privilege in an age of cruelty and misunderstanding, his intelligence and benevolence is evident. This was brought home to me by Shamu, a lad in his twenties who rented out his father’s house in Naggar, a village surrounded by apple tree orchards.

It was a thrill to meet Shamu’s father who was a young boy when Roerich lived in the village. (Roerich died in 1947.) Now an old man, Shamu’s father told me that the apple tree orchards were introduced by Roerich. When the painter encountered poverty in Naggar he imported apple trees which he gave to the villagers to improve their lives. This fact is undocumented but was told by Mr Sham Lal, an elder in the village of Naggar when I visited in the 1990s. In those days the apples were harvested and taken by truck to the nearest towns to be sent on to further Indian markets, so that Roerich’s legacy continues today.

Roerich wrote, “Such grandeur is ahead! Such a great steps awaits it’s fiery affirmation! Our Teaching and the affirmation of the Higher Principles will reveal so much that is great to humanity! A great period is drawing near. Thus do We create together.” (Angi Yoga, Fiery World III)

Ghengis Khan by Nicholas Roerich 1945

Without Roerich there would be no Diamond Seeds Music, for every journey must have a beginning, and it was my discovery of Nicholas Roerich that inspired travel, poetry and music. Like the great apple orchards of Naggar, I hope, that with Roerich’s influence, Diamond Seeds will bear fruit and contribute to music and culture around the world, forever.

Ella Jo co-founder of Diamond Seeds Music Project

For more information about Roerich in the Kullu Valley

Zombie Pirate Children – A Gwubbins the Witch story – Now Available!

Zombie Pirate Children by Ella Jo StreetLater in 2020

A story with Zombies, Pirates, a witch, a wizard, a dragon and an escaped slave…..

Ella Jo began writing a children’s series called ‘Gwubbins the Witch’ in 2017. The stories feature a well meaning witch who’s magic sometimes goes wrong. This is most apparent in the story about an exploding birthday cake, and the root cause of the confusion in the story ‘Barney the Musical’. But these endearing characters also embark upon journeys and adventures, as in the entertaining ‘Gwubbins Winter Adventure’ – and again in this latest work, ‘The Zombie Pirate Children’.
This is Ella Jo’s fourth Gwubbins the Witch story, which sees Gwubbins and her friends embark on an epic journey through space and time.

‘Its been a hell of a start to the year’ Ella Jo says, giving this interview from her home in the English Countryside. ‘In 2018 there was a music album to wrap up and the Zombie Pirate Children to start. It took a lot of effort but both projects have been completed and they were a lot of fun’

Almost Anglo Saxon was released in January 2018, Ella Jo’s latest Gwubbins the Witch story, ‘The Zombie Pirate Children’ it is hoped will be released at the beginning of February 2020.

Zombie Pirate Children by Ella Jo Street

‘I spent all of 2018 writing this Gwubbins story to explain how the Pirate Twins came to live in Gwubbins village’. Ella Jo explains. In a nutshell this is the story:

‘The Twins were abandoned on an island with other Pirate Children by Blackbeard in 1717 and they sent a message in a bottle asking for help. Gwubbins gets the message but needed a mechanism to travel through time and space – and it came in the shape of a Cosmic Time Turtle who swims across universes. Gwubbins visited the mysterious land of Shambala to learn her destiny to help her find the Pirate Children. When she reaches Earth she meets an escaped slave who takes her to Liverpool where they encounter Sir Isaac Newton. By helping him formulate one of his famous theories, Gwubbins and her friends acquire a ship to search for the island where the Pirate Children are marooned.

On the sea journey they encounter a Kraken, a hairy hand and a Lucky Licky Lollipop – all helpful in their own way, but for all the magical assistance – when Gwubbins finds the Pirate Children they find it very hard to trust her. A dangerous dragon must be placated, then, as they make ready to leave, the pirates turn up. Blackbeard has returned for his treasure and to steal the children away.

They need to figure out how to frighten Blackbeard away – I wont spoil the end, but there is plenty of Pirate Speak and Zombie threats as the finale of the book unfolds.’

‘The book was written for older children between 9 – 14 years. This is because the story encompasses the true history of 18th century Liverpool and the slave trade. I wanted to weave real, gritty history into the story and allow a wider view on those times. It was a challenge to tackle such a grave period and make it palatable, but this explains why the Pirate Children were in danger – and Blackbeard was a genuine character in that world.

So despite writing about Zombies and Pirates, the book has to be pitched to older children because of the real history that it contains, which I find quite ironic. The characters experience the delight of Shambala one moment and the stink of Liverpool the next, and out at sea, in un-chartered waters, magic creeps in. But this story has been written for kids in the modern world, and the Time Turtle was bound to influence events…’

Ella Jo goes the extra mile at the end of the book to explain the words used by the pirates.
‘I found the words used in pirate slang, and for the genuine sea shanties they would have sung. I also included a list of all the real people who feature in the story, so at the end the reader can see who they were and what they did – from Sir Isaac Newton to Blackbeard the Pirate’

It is a truly gripping yarn – and an audio book will be produced for The Zombie Pirate Children in the near future. (Later in 2020)

Zombie Pirate Children by Ella Jo Street