Stories woven through. Remembrance against despair. Let your charm serve you.

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I came across this preview to what looks to be an interesting up-coming project called Art Therapy The Movie, about several groups of Art therapy students practicing their craft overseas.

I was particularly taken by the notion that to work with people whose language you may not have a grasp of could be a good discipline for the student of art therapy. This can enable both therapist and participant to communicate through art more readily- though I doubt kids really need this restraint.

Take a look at the movie and then consider donating to them on Kickstarter (though they haven’t set this up yet!)

 

Art Therapy: The Movie is a feature documentary about the innovative ways art is being used around the world to overcome emotional challenges and traumatic experiences.  Make this film possible through Kickstarter!

As I sit here at my desk amongst a pile of ‘stuff’, I look around and ask myself “Of all these things I see what holds most meaning and value to me?” My answer is easily arrived at. Those objects that have a story behind them or a connection to someone special. In short the things that invoke feelings and memories of something, someone or somewhere else.

When you go to a store and you buy an ornament or a piece of jewellery, do you buy for aesthetic value, or is there something more? Granted something that looks good to you will make you feel good and there is definite value in that.

  • But what if you could expand on that good feeling and employ these objects to do more for you than just looking good, matching your decor or your dress?
  • What if the next object you bring home is a direct response to a personal desire, a need to remember a strength or quality you have, or even the honouring of a loved one?
  • What if your connection to this object is deepened because you were part of its creation, through your sharing of your story, your expressions on paper or clay or movement?

That’s where I can help you by creating your Own Personal Charm. Following a one hour consultation in my studio we’ll bring this creation of yours into life.

For lots more information about what I can offer you follow the links.

If you don’t live in Melbourne but would still love to experience having your own charm made, don’t despair, I also offer my service using Skype

 

 

 

The vulture has been hanging around for two weeks now. She parades around behind me, looking like a cross between a chicken and E.T. Purifying the air as we walk. She assists me in decreasing my footprint, by scarfing down my past.

In her glory days, she was the emblem of Nekhbet, the Egyptian goddess, where the Upper is South. The ancients respected Nekhbet’s sacred employment. Knowledge and understanding lost to many in this busy world. With her enormous wing span the goddess in the guise of the vulture was the great protector of the Pharaoh. Golden amulets of the vulture were also placed on the throats of the dead as protection.

Today, the vulture could be an emblem for recycling, renewable energies or good old-fashioned protection, especially for women. She follows in our wakes, like a faithful and hungry pup, that nobody wants. Protecting us like a great mother bird, knowing the right time to devour that which is no longer good for this world, whilst making way for the new.

My vulture above, pressed into metal shim is going to look good as a christmas decoration this year.

 

Growing older gracefully

(I said ‘Growing older’ not ‘old’)

I’ve always been attached to my youth.
But something happened when I wasn’t paying attention.
Straying from the fountain,
my youthful skin slid to the ground.

Of course it happens every moment of every day.
Right?
Not to those lost girls and boys,
who choose to stay on Sugar Mountain,
attempting to remain forever young,
beating their wings faster and faster
against the ravages of time.

There you are minding your own business,
when all of a sudden,
a blast of grey weariness greets you,
Unable to sit cross-legged on the floor anymore.
Leached of colour.
Dry skin, cracking away under the layers of moisturiser.

The funny thing is that I’ve long thought this would be my time,
when I’d be my golden best.
The wise woman in her garden of herbs and spices,
constructing amulets for souls lost.
Offering kindness and understanding,
for bewildered travellers,
traversing their own paths.

As I stand on the brink of a new cycle,
I realise that these words
are not about ageing,
but the angst of denying age,
or to put it another way,
fear of the vulture devouring my youth.

I am preparing to follow Inanna* into the underworld.
So I gather my staff, my guide-book and a few wise Sherpas.
My wise woman elder calls me from a distant summit.
Her skin is craggy and pale,
but her smile lights up the world.
She knows all the sums of my parts and beyond.

She is familiar with my ghosts,
my miseries and anger.
She knows my achievements and my joys
and She of gentle heart, knows my future.

I’m longing to reach her,
but I have a teenager,
forlornly grasping my ankles.
One minute, pleading with me not to leave.
The next minute spouting angry curses at me,
Just like a teenager.

Her youth clouds my wisdom at times.
My clear direction, lost in admiring her flawless skin,
and her blooming potential.

The other night my teenager suicided,
or maybe I killed her,
leaving me to endure the grief that ensued.
She was trying to convince me to stay with her forever.
Only to convince me that I have to go,
and do it well.

The death thing was just a lesson, of course.
When I woke we were both still there.
Bound in our love/hate embrace.

Teenage cunning thwarting my progress.
She doesn’t yet understand.
I need her vitality to complete this journey,
her hope for a future,
and her fearless laughter,
to drown out the silence
of my increasingly grumpy old moods.

But I need her to grow up with me,
accepting the nature of things,
whilst massaging my heart when I run into trouble
and faint in the struggle.

You see this teenager and I (and all the others of course)
have nearly achieved one of life’s great goals.
We’ve already lived a rich and fulfilling life.

But I know that this next phase
will belong to me.

Help! A Vulture ate my youth

Previously I wouldn’t have thought of a Vulture as a symbol of wise feminine power.

The Vulture probably gets bad press because of its lack of classical beauty and its love of devouring dead flesh, but let’s view these qualities in a more positive way as the Ancient Egyptians did.

The Vulture was a very popular symbol in Ancient Egyptian art. It represented Upper Egypt as well as, Mut (pronounced Moot) who was the primordial Mother of all goddesses.

Because male and female Egyptian white vultures have no discernible differences in their markings, the Ancient Egyptians believed them to all be females. Therefore they believed Mut was born from the primordial nothing.

The Vulture and the symbol of the Crone are closely linked as well (the English word for crone is derived from a French word meaning “carrion”). They represent the wise part within of all of us that is female.

Vulture devours the dead so as to provide a cleansed space for the new.

Like the vulture, the Crone has also regularly been viewed in a negative light. She has been depicted in many faerie stories as an evil witch or hag, but she can also be seen as providing a very protective and helpful role.

Many cultures revere their elders for their wisdom and life experience. This is the way we can view the crone, the archetypal wise woman. She deserves our utmost respect, as do we all as we approach our middle age and beyond.

I like to picture her in her rambling garden of herbs, providing medicines and amulets made from nature.

* One of those dear Sherpa friends of mine directed me to the story of Inanna and her descent into the underworld. A perfectly relevant story for the theme for this week.

Have you ever tried to withdraw from an addictive substance?

Have you ever sat up alone in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, craving something in your body so badly you shake and rock and cry and generally feel like HELL?

Once upon a time this happened to me. Here’s a little story of how I reached a turning point.

Back in January 2005 I was in a car accident which resulted in a fractured pelvis and broken ribs. It took most of the rest of the year at home to recover physically.

A daily dose of a ‘narcotic-like’ pain killer, Tramadol was prescribed. Tramadol helped me through a very difficult time, and allowed me to function quite well over a 7 month period (though funnily I don’t remember a lot). I’m very glad I had it, but….inevitably the time came when I had to say goodbye to my dear best friend. YIKES!!

I remember the insomnia, accompanied by the shaking and rocking and crying.

One night when I was at my worst and feeling like I was going out of my mind I experienced a breakthrough, by reaching for my drum.

The Drum Journey

BOOM BOOM- The primal sound of the drumbeat.

I was downstairs, far enough away to not disturb my sleeping partner. I held the drum to my ear and began to drum softly and slowly, taking some time to settle into the strangeness of it all- letting go of my Ego (what was left of it).

I just wanted to distract myself but in the back of my mind I also knew that if I persisted I could achieve an altered state of consciousness.

The key to reaching an altered state of consciousness is persistence, gently pushing aside self-doubt, to slowly allowing the conscious self to let go, allowing the rhythm to guide you to whatever comes up in your mind or body. Reaching an altered state of consciousness can lead to profound insight and possibility for change.

I drummed for what felt like a very long time. The patterns of the beat ebbed and flowed as I traversed the landscape of my mind, rather like I was trekking across an undulating desert. I had exhausted myself but for the time of my inner journey. For a while I had forgotten my angst of withdrawal. I had gained some kind of new strength.

Sowing a seed for your recovery

I was not cured in one session, but had begun a process of action.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, try working with a drum to help not only divert your energies but hopefully break the cycle of feeling helpless.

Drumming is a effective way to achieve a repetitive sound that is conducive to achieving an altered state. If you prefer a different instrument though, work with that. It is best to work with something that requires physical action on your behalf as passively listening to something may not allow you to engage in this instance.

Persist with it and if nothing else you will physically tire yourself out enough to get some sleep.

Share your story

I would love to hear from you about your experiences withdrawing from an addiction. How did you do it? What helped you?

I’d also love to hear about your drum journeys. What do you use your drum for?

This is all you get today because I’m busy being the perfect mother hen to three Bantam Wyandotte chicks, and I can’t concentrate on much else.

I will throw in some keywords as food for thought:

  • fragile and yet robust
  • potential
  • timid and curious
  • fluffy
  • soft
  • cheap
  • cheep
  • funny
  • naughty
  • cute
  • tiny wings
  • poo
  • preen
  • ventriloquists
  • hungry
  • thirsty
  • fascinating
  • pecking
  • mothering
  • nurturing

Generally dogs are well-regarded as being loyal to their humans.

What does it mean for us to be loyal to others? To stand by our friends even we don’t agree. Are we brave enough to find solutions to our relationship difficulties rather that letting them fester? Can we speak directly to our friends if a problem arises?

It helps to be vigilant in our thoughts and our hearts, remaining compassionate towards others, and forgiving, as our dogs are towards us.

This week I am guilty of lack of compassion, and it has taken a few dream visitations from my dog, Jolly, to open my eyes to my behaviour.

If you fall into the pattern of bitter thoughts or judgement towards others, or yourself, look to your dog for a reminder of loyalty and love. Let yourself be guided by her loving eyes and wagging tail.

If treated with simple love and consistency, your dog will always be there for you and will forgive you your complex human-ness over and over again.

If you don’t have a dog you may find having an amulet with a symbol of a dog a helpful reminder of the stress you create for yourself by hanging on to anger.

Keywords to contemplate:

  • Loyalty
  • Simplicity
  • Compassion
  • Love
  • Consistency
  • Companionship
  • Forgiveness
Psychopomp

If more traditional uses and associations for the symbol of the dog interest you, look no further than the guiding and intermediary role they play for humans entering the realms of death. The dog as a symbol has a strong history across many cultures as being the guide to the underworld (psychopomp). As in life the dog is a companion to their human, so in death they guide their human to the realms of beyond. Across many cultures the dog is also regarded as an excellent intermediary between the living and the dead.

A dog amulet or talisman would be put to excellent use if you have a desire to make contact with the underworld.

Did I say I was going to talk about the Regrets of the Dying for the next five weeks? Well I was wrong, and perhaps I violated a sacred law, decreed by the higher being running this show.

“Why does she change her mind?” you may ask.

A very large cow standing on her hind legs, wearing pink knitted sleeves, loomed over me and gave me a right ticking off the other night, that’s why.

Having spent some time trying to decipher her message, I arrived at the conclusion that by making this particular promise, I created a serious blockage in my creative flow, by not allowing things to arise and be written about as needed. The result was not just a visit from this cow, but a virtual stampede of cows and mik and related themes over the next few nights.

Life is too short.

So what am I going to write about today then?

Cows of course

Hathor at the Dendera temple, Upper Egypt.photo by Ra 1982.

These days we associate cows with humility, endurance and the maternal principle as they are of course great providers to human-kind.

But I think the cow’s truly powerful symbolism has been lost due to large scale farming, and our general disconnecion from the earth. My ‘cow in the pink cardigan’ messenger was no humble servant though. She was more of the Hathor- Ancient Egyptian, powerful mother of all women, kind of cow. She had a serious message to convey.

In addition to guiding my creative flow, she was warning me to not  give away my own feminine strength and principles, in order to live according to a male perspective, especially in business.

What about you? Do you resonate with the cow goddess’s message? Are you living according to your own principles or that of another’s?

By asking this question of you, and myself, I have just recognised that I have in fact followed on from last weeks theme after all! If you haven’t already go back and have a look at regret number one of the dying.

Hathor- Ancient Egyptian Cow Goddess

Sterling Silver Hathor pendant made by Ra 2012 for sale at Symbolica’s Etsy store

Hathor was one of the most commonly worshipped goddesses in ancient Egypt. She was sometimes depicted entirely as a cow but often she was a beautiful woman with the ears of a cow. Women in even the most primitive tribes wore amulets depicting the image of Hathor to ensure their own fertility. She was principally a Mother Goddess, representing divine motherhood. The ancient women believed she assisted them to conceive and she also helped them in childbirth. She represented to the Ancient people different aspects of the symbol of the cow, Fertility, Wealth, Rebirth, The mother, heavenly mother of the sun.

Uses For Today

The symbol of the cow, especially in the guise as the ancient Egyptian Goddess, Hathor, is a great symbol to work with if you are experiencing any difficulties or fears regarding fertility or childbirth. She connects us to the sacred mother of creation within us. She protects and nurtures us and helps to ease our fears.

She is also very appropriate to use as a symbol to help us give birth to new ideas, or to simply celebrate the feminine within us.

Because of her close affiliation with the moon, another very feminine symbol, she will work especially well with you under a full or new moon.

Recently I came across the book- The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware.

From its humble beginnings as a simple blog post, the ‘regrets’ list has triggered responses and discussions from thousands of people worldwide.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you an outline of Bronnie’s list and explore ideas on how we might be able to embrace those lessons.

Here is the first Regret as it appears in the book:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Bronnie speaks of the clarity to ‘look back on their lives’ that people commonly experience when they are dying. It’s as if all the mundane stuff of life is swept out of the way; the importance of day to day concerns no longer a priority, leaving the underlying meaningful stuff of life to ponder and get on with.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

The main question I would like to raise, is how can we, as healthy living beings, truly embrace the lessons of those faced with their death.

I’ve often heard the suggestion, “Imagine you’re told you have a few months to live. What would you change, do, wish for….etc?”

For most of us it takes more than imagination to be moved into action; to change a life time of habit that may be contrary to what we hope for ourselves.

As a person not facing imminent death, that I am aware of, I act and behave in a way that considers all sorts of future consequences : If I do this what will it mean to so and so, or how will affect my chances for the future, or what will happen etc.

If I really was told I was dying I would still be concerned with future consequences but in a very different way. I would be much more concerned with what kind of legacy I left by my past and present actions. I would probably be much less concerned by trivial day-to-day matters.

So can we learn from the lessons of the dying? Can we, as living beings, oblivious of our personal expiry dates, truly embrace our mortality so that we might live more fulfilling lives? I think it’s possible. I’m certain that special individuals are already doing so. At the very least I think it’s worth some interesting and exciting exploration.

So lets look at some ideas together over the next few weeks.

If you have any thoughts on the subject I would love to hear from you.

There are many paths and many opinions on this subject. All have their place and will hold truth for different people.