Having had a short break from the computer to gather myself in and do some inner work to bring myself back to centre , I thought I’d share another of the artworks I created as part of the Journey cards.
This one , as the name suggests, holds the energy of the centre of the Sacred space, the place where all things meet in balance ,where all is connected and held in love awaiting the right time for its potential to become manifest . It is the space between the spaces, where all things come from and to which all is returned. In the medicine wheel it represents the element of ether , the place of spirit. A place of stillness and paradoxically movement from within.
I often visualise it as a cauldron with all the other elements combining to create a potent potion , the brew of inspiration that will bring forth new ideas and new perspectives or offer a space to drink of the healing medicine contained within it. A medicine that takes us on a journey, to a timeless place of limitless possibilities and allows us to glimpse the threads of the web we are weaving our lives upon. Where we enter the void of beginning and ending, dying and being reborn , in each moment , over and over again.
This is one of my favourite images, I find it very powerful and evocative for a number of reasons , non of which I am able to share.
Some of what we are shown and taught by our guides is not for others to know. Its is for us to keep and work with as we reclaim our inner power . To tell all abroad to others is at times to diminish the energy and medicine of what one has learned. Its called The Sacred Mystery for a reason xx
As those of you who have visited The Well of Belonging will be aware , I have a life long connection to and awareness of ‘Other’. That which is other than human. Land spirits, plant spirits, animal spirits. I have felt drawn towards exploring and discovering a deeper connection to the beings that co-exist with us on this earth and those that support us and work with us in the other realms.
A path that is often termed these days as Shamanism. Whilst I would say the way in which I work could be considered shamanic in nature , I do not and would not consider myself by any stretch of the imagination to be ‘A shaman’ .
Striclty speaking a true Shaman is one who is called by the spirits themselves , receives numerous initiations by them and is usually apprenticed to another in their lineage for a number of years before being allowed to call themselves Shaman. The spirits themselves decide if you are up to the job – one which is actually full of pitfalls and dangers and needs to be navigated with the utmost care and with full knowledge of what one is doing.
Shaman means ,one who knows. A shaman is often a well respected member of the community, whose life is dedicated to mediating between the human and spirit realms on behalf of both, to support the wellbeing of the place, the spirits and the people. To maintain harmony and balance for all concerned. You can’t become a shaman in a weekend. But you can utilise some of the practices, such as journeying, to enhance your own connections to your helpers, guides and teachers in spirit.
For a lot of people in Western cultures sadly, our connection to our native spiritual heritage was severed long ago with the advent of Christianity- and those who had the knowledge were either murdered or went into hiding. So we have had to patch together fragments from our oral history and combine them with borrowed practices from other cultures, likely to be similar to our own ancient practices and do our best to reconnect the threads of our spiritual and nature connected heritage .
There aren’t many who are connected to a lineage and most people, like myself are in effect taught through their relationship with their guides.
The majority of people in the modern world who are drawn to shamanism , those that aren’t part of an established tradition or culture, work within what is termed core shamanism- which is a set of practices gathered by western anthropologists studying other tribal cultures , that are utilised to help dissociated and disconnected westerners re-connect to their own innate capacity for relationship with beings beyond the physical , human realms.
One of the main ways of doing this that is often taught is Journeying. The prescribed method is to lie down , with eyes closed and listen to the repetitive beat of a drum and journey on its sound into the spirit realms of upper, middle and lower world. The concept and knowledge of these 3 realms is shared by all cultures across the globe.
You journey first to a beginning place , somewhere that has a familiar counter part to a place you know well in this realm. Then you ask for a guide to connect with who will be your helper and obviously , guide, around the inner realms. Time is spent forming a relationship with these guides before you are then ready to be taken to the access point for the Lower, Middle and Upper realms. Usually the most common presentation representing these 3 worlds is the World Tree. The roots represent connection to the Lower world. The trunk Middle world and the branches the Upper World.
Some people connect to this practice very well and very easily – but it requires an ability to be able to both be relaxed in body and mind enough to leave this world behind, whilst remaining conscious of what is happening, so you can bring back the information /healing you need. It is essentially dreaming whilst being awake.
But this isn’t the only way to journey , nor is it the only way to find or strengthen your connection to your own guides, helpers and other realms. Its a method I’ve found quite frustrating and difficult because it doesn’t always happen the way its described.
There is a big emphasis on the visual aspect of the journey and of seeing what is going on – but not everyone sees clear images of what is taking place.Some experience the journey as a purely physical event -with bodily sensations providing the information. Some see only colours or hear messages.
Every one is different and so it makes sense that we will each have our own method.At the end of the day the purpose is to learn to work with your own guides and helpers and not everyone is destined to travel between the realms this way . I spent years wasting time being overly concerned with getting it right , until I eventually gave in and accepted the fact that this way, may not be my way, and my guides and helpers will show me what I need to know , in ways that work for me .
Some people, like me , can’t travel to the sound of a drum beat , its too loud and intrusive for me to be able to relax enough. So I don’t bother with it . The drum beat is there to help you shift your brain waves from one state to another so you enter into a state of consciousness that is between waking and sleeping. But there are many ways of doing this.
Some people can do it at will , some do it with breath, some do it with meditation, some do it with rattles . I find silence and stillness quite helpful. Singing and chanting is another good way. Dreaming is another way of learning to journey.
One of the ways that works very well for me and no doubt lots of creative types , is though creating art. I find working with story, a very powerful way of journeying, that brings imagery and language together to bring awareness of what needs to be healed . Creativity using the imagination offers a way to connect with and bring back information from the spirit realms to this one. For many people, the creating of the art work is the Journey.
So here, I offer the second of the images from the Journey cards series , as well as a Journey Poem I have been given permission by my guides to share with you.
Old Mother Raven
came to my door ,
to tell me of wisdom and ancient law.
Dressed in fine feathers, with eyes darkest black,
My next offering will be a series of artworks I created for use as Journey Cards. Each of the images were created with the help of my guides and helpers in Otherworld, the beings of the elemental realms and local places in nature that are willing to offer their energy and support as a way of encouraging us humans to re-connect with our oldest ancestor- the very Earth upon which we live.
They want us to know that we are not living here alone – we are part of a vast web of consciousness that is interrelated and interconnected – and we always have been.
As humanity has raced ahead with its technological advancement we have left behind and forgotten our roots, our real family, our true place in the cosmos, our only home. We have forgotten how to dream, how to journey to connect with the other than human. We have been torn from our Sacred heritage and understanding of the seasons and the natural cycles of birth, life and death and the rituals and ceremonies that honour them and in so doing, remind us of our role as stewards and guardians of the Earth.
Imagery is a powerful way to connect to our subconscious memories and to open us to our source of deep connection through the psyche and the intuitive senses. We put our rational minds to one side and allow ourselves to sit in stillness and open to the language of the Soul . We allow ourselves to been shown what it is we need to see, in the mirror of the image and we allow what comes to lead us on a journey of discovery, to the medicine we need .
Fire is our oldest ally. Our most ancient human ancestors learned to create fire to keep warm, ward off anything that might want to eat us, to cleanse with smoke and burn away with heat the dross so it can be transformed.
We learned to cook food with fire.We learned how to use it to create healing medicines by heating the plants in water to bring out their medicinal properties and we learned how to use it to heat metals and alloys to craft tools and weapons.
Fire, as an ancestor, has kept us alive and given us many inspirations to help us to thrive and evolve. We owe much to this humble element. By connecting to its energy we can learn a great deal about the fire in our own being and we can contemplate how its nature has shaped our own .
I call this Card – The Ancestors- and it holds the energy of the fire element in the South (or East direction of the medicine wheel for me, depending on which circle I am working in).
In the Old traditions of Britain the Element of Fire was placed in the South, however when I began to work with the Goddess in circle, I was told to place Fire in the East.
You may place it somewhere else entirely. It’s actually a very interesting exercise to consider each element, in each direction and see what this reveals to you.
As you may know if you have been following my Facebook page , I have set myself a challenge to share one creative post a day to help me to both connect with my self and my own creativity and to reach out more to you.
I was having a look for something that felt like it wanted to be shared. Something that had energy and relevance at this point in time and I came across the following poem and painting .
The Painting was something I did following one of the ERT training weekends . One of the body areas and character positions we learnt about is the Boundary Position and the Boundary Character.
This area is located in the top part of the head and includes the eyes and brings up material relating to our experiences whilst we are gestating in the womb, prior to us coming into the world , our birthing experiences and the effect that has on us and the period from birth, relating to our bonding with care givers and the world around us . Working with this area can bring up issues/difficulties with making/creating/maintaining healthy attachment to others , trauma related to being born, pre-conscious issues of contact, connection, safety and belonging and later issues of how we keep and maintain our own personal and energetic boundaries with others or not.
There is initially no boundary between a mother and her unborn child. They are one . What effects the mother affects the child .We come into the world already imprinted with the energy of the environment our developing form was exposed too, from our mothers experiences of her own inner/outer worlds and the effect this has on her, physically, emotionally, psychologically and psychically, including the people and places she is exposed too and the ways in which she relates and is related to.
We are formed from the DNA of both parents and so we inherit cellular memories from them and our ancestors in our genetic make-up. This genetic imprint will inform the basis of our developing personality and character without our conscious awareness. Something that I found deeply fascinating.
That those who have now gone, possibly generations before us , who we may never have known or met in this life , can have an influence on who we become. With some aspects only occurring randomly because those specific DNA keys happened to be activated as the cells we were to become, began to divide. We are a totally unique signature of this latent genetic information, passed down in the atoms of our parents to us. Its why siblings can often have such different characters and personalities despite coming from the same home and environment.
I remember my mum showing a black and white photograph once of a young woman dressed in 1800’s clothing – I was a bit shocked to see my cousin , who isn’t usually found wearing a dress of any description, in a lace collared pinafore dress and smart shoes. Had she started modelling ? Had my uncle started another photographic project ? As it happened , as you may have guessed, the photo wasn’t actually of my cousin at all. It was of my Great-Great Aunt Rose I f I remember rightly – who my cousin just happened to look identical too. It was slightly spooky to see the two in photos side by side – one face from the past and one from the present as though aunt Rose had popped into a Tardis and time travelled to the 1990’s 100 or so years after dying.
Its not just our looks that are influenced but our whole way of being in the world . Which traits from our ancestry do we have affecting our experience of life at this moment in time? whose humour did we inherit ? whose skills and abilities are present ? whose undesirable personality quirks do we have the misfortune of being stuck with?
Which brings me on to the poem that accompanies the picture. This was done months later , on a whim, as a fleeting moment of inspiration drifted into my awareness whilst I contemplated writing an article about Flower Essences and how they help us to work through our ingrained and habitual patterns , some of which we bring here karmically and ancestrally.
The energetic blueprint of all that has gone before in our family line is coded into the very fabric of our own energy system , offering those of us who have come here to help heal this material for our past and future generations, an opportunity to do so. Often guided into a path of serving others initially and then one of discovering various modes of healing and energy work, at some point, we will discover we are experiencing material that doesn’t feel as if it is directly our own and yet it is also our own.
It has been unconsciously working itself out through us , until such a time that we are able to consciously work with it – with the awareness that it belongs to a lineage, not an individual. This forms part of the lessons we have come here to learn and the knowledge we have come here to activate and utilise as the worlds decent into catastrophe and greater imbalance, forces the need for us all to do our own inner work to help bring the balance back.
As we work through these old stories we have a chance to rewrite the code for ourselves and those who come after us. What we heal in ourselves we heal for everyone connected to our line.
So here is todays creative offering , I hope you enjoy it .
Imagine you are made up of a majestic hand woven tapestry- created with a unique design that is yours and yours alone. This is a living work of creation, of you, as a human being, which began to be woven long before you were born and continues to be woven every day of your life. Every experience you encounter, every disappointment you face, every set back, every victory every milestone – is woven into the fabric of your being.
Some parts of it are vibrant, richly coloured, intricately sewn from fine strong fibres – this represents the most whole aspects of your being.
Some areas are a little dusty, some of the threads are frayed or broken, some places have holes in or are threadbare and fading – these are the areas that represent the older forgotten parts of you, the bits you haven’t taken as good care of. You can still see the design in the tapestry but it’s a little dull.
And then there are the areas that have been knotted , torn , ripped , shredded, burnt , stood on , scuffed , trampled and covered in layers of dirt and mud and grime – here you can barely see the pattern to discern where one bit ends and another begins . These areas on your tapestry represent your wounding and your trauma.
Some parts of the tapestry seem to have other people’s threads tangled up in them – or there appears to be a pattern that has been locked into ours that doesn’t belong to us – as though someone snuck in and took over what was being created without our knowledge and without realising, we carried on with the design.
Some places have threads that have snagged and got so tangled up that no further design is possible until the thread is undone or cut out and rewoven.
Working with essences is like lifting the dirt off the tapestry, mending the broken threads and restoring the whole thing to its most brilliant, vibrant original form. A little bit at a time. Piece by piece. Thread by thread. Layer by layer.
They allow us to slowly piece back together the missing parts, fill in the holes, and re-weave threads of our liking and choosing to create a tapestry free of others design ideas and ill-fitting threads.
They are an amazing doorway to discovering exactly what is you and what is not you. What you need and what you don’t need. They help to uncover and clear the energetic imprint of our trauma, our limiting beliefs, the emotional and mental patterning that has formed who we are based on the energy we grew up in and around.
They do this by enabling us to return to a state of natural balance by correcting the energetic imprint or thread if you like.
Whilst training as an Essence Practitioner and using essences on a regular basis, lots of small changes have taken place. I am still who I am, but the shifts in perception and awareness of my life story and patterns of what I have experienced have subtly altered and expanded as new insights and understanding have filtered through.
There have been challenging emotions and shadow aspects of my being to confront. Boundary issues to work on, trauma to heal and release, unprocessed anger to work on in a way that puts the energy to creative rather than disruptive or destructive use.
Essences have supported me to be much more grounded in my body but not without first working through the blocks and wounding that caused me to be out of my body in the first place.
They have put me more in touch with emotions I dared not acknowledge or allow myself to feel in the past. My vulnerability and sensitivity. My inner strength and resolve.
They have helped me learn from my past mistakes, acknowledge the limits of what I can and cannot do and what is and isn’t possible. My mind is calmer, my thoughts clearer. I am more able to allow myself to follow my own natural, rhythmic flow of fullness and emptiness without constantly trying to change it.
Having essences to help us is like having a circle of really good trusted allies who will build you up, support you and encourage you but who will also call you on your bull . Let you know when you’re not being honest or truthful with yourself, in a very gentle and loving way and show you what you might not be seeing or may have missed so you can have a broader, clearer more truthful perception of yourself and the world you live in.
Learning to select essences for others has been a deeply rewarding and enlightening experience. One that has shown me without doubt that we are not alone in our human struggles and the Earth we live on is patiently waiting for us to reconnect with her and make use of the abundance of healing she has to offer, if only we would turn to her for support.
Learning to tune into nature and create essences from the plants and crystals really opens up this connection to a new level as nature connection can be a valuable mirror to our own soul.
Having the opportunity to integrate principals of Embodied Relational Therapy with flower essence consultations has deepened my capacity to connect and relate to both the client and the essences and work more deeply with issues that arise.
Not solely through talking and questioning but through tuning in to the clients energy and prescribing essences that relate to the issues the client is bringing. Some of which they may not be fully aware of.
This allows for supporting others very deeply , without necessarily needing them to say very much or for them to even know what it is they need.
It means working with people who may not be able to specifically identify an issue, or who have several issues that interlink, a little easier as a therapist and also means the client, through using essences to support where they are at that time, can begin to reach a place of clarity on their own process and identify what within them is needing most attention.
By paying attention to a client’s unfolding process through what the essences bring up to clear, support can be offered to match the shifts and transitions a client is going through and space can be held to support the integration of the new energies, insights and understanding that arises.
Seeing people blossom as a result of working with the natural energy of flowers, gems, elements and specific natural environments, seeing how much more quickly people shift through their blocks, stuck-ness and wounding to embody more of their own true soul nature has been an amazing honour to witness.
I’ve particularly enjoyed working longer term over several sessions with people who are looking for ways to find more harmony and balance between themselves and their lives as they navigate transitional periods and times of deep change.
Having an Essence Practitioner to work with allows you to be held and safely supported throughout your time taking the essences. Carefully select essences alongside you means not only are the issues you are aware of being addressed but any subtler , underlying issues can be picked up and gently woven into the healing too.
Having the expertise and skills of a trained counsellor and therapist means you are able to be supported in a deeper process of unfolding if you wish to work longer term or on longer standing , recurrent issues. and core wounding patterns.
The combination of Essences and therapeutic support means our issues can often be worked through more quickly than talking therapies alone.
This blog was first written for My Essence Practitioner Tutor Jackie Stewart and appeared on her Blog at www.Flowerspirit.co.uk as an introduction to working with essences for her Flower Essence Practitioner Training Course.
As I type this title, a wave of sadness flows through my right shoulder and rib cage. An anxious feeling jingles the cells in the same place. My breathing is short and shallow and my right hand begins to shake. My arm shakes. I have butterflies in my belly, my throat is tightening and I can feel tears coming and going in waves. Is this safe ?
I take a deep breath and a voice within says ‘yes’.
I wait a few moments to settle into safety and a gentle calm flows over me. An inner nurturing protector steps in to hold the fragile part of me that is afraid to let you in, that is afraid to let you know what the gentle child within me wishes you to see.
That she is here. That she is tired of being alone ‘out there’ on the edges, alone in her vulnerability and sensitivity, not knowing where to turn for comfort and reassurance. And I feel a stabbing in my heart and tears prickling the edges of my eyes but I don’t and won’t cry.
My adult self says ‘now is not the time’. There are things to do. Work to go to. Jobs to be done . Later. When there is time.
I check in with the vulnerable child and sense the disappointment. Yet again she must wait to be seen and be heard . Yet again there is no time for her. I see myself in my minds eye, with my inner child on my lap, holding her. I tell her I will be with her, I will tell her story soon but for now I need to get to work .I tell her that I love her, I haven’t forgotten her and I promise we will speak again soon .
I feel the warmth in my heart swell. I sense her again, not so disappointed, looking forward to being with me again. I sense the anxiety mixed with apprehension – wanting to believe that I will , but afraid I may forget my promise …again.
She needs to speak, to be let in.
I feel the sadness and disappointment of the birthday party that never happened .
The tears cried alone behind closed doors.
The days spent wandering the playground by myself – looking out and seeing the connection that I do not have as though I live behind an invisible wall that you cannot see beyond. Wondering why you wont come near me. Do not see me, like I am not here. I feel invisible like a ghost but I am not a ghost. I am here.
She speaks to me -‘ You all exist in a world beyond me and I don’t know how to reach out, to connect, to belong. I feel my brothers loss of his mother, I feel my fathers grief at losing a wife, my mother trying to keep strong and keep going even though she is dying.
I saw it in my dreams; I was with her and she was dying. I feel everything in the space around me, all you never say. I see into your eyes and know your soul but I cannot say a word of it aloud. I know. I always knew. I know you don’t see what I see. I am sad. I am alone.
I get in the car to travel to work and she is still here, still talking, making sure I don’t forget.
I ask her why she left me – she corrects me – ‘I didn’t leave, you left me out. You hurt and couldn’t let me in. I am 5 and 9 and 7 and 6 but mostly 4 –and I am clever! I teached myself to ride a bike and how to swim, I like music and dancing and winning. I am good at winning but I can’t always win but I like it. I write good stories and I am very clever.’
I nearly don’t type this part because it feels silly to my adult self, but my inner child is not happy – am I ashamed of her? This is her part of the story, why do I not want to share? I promised. So it stays.
I smile and feel a great warmth and affection for my younger self who has waited all this time to be seen – recognised –validated. I tell her I know how clever she is .How I still like winning and remind her of all the times we won – she says she always knew when she would win and when she wouldn’t, she was sometimes a bit upset but it didn’t matter because sometimes other people have to win too. .
And I slowly let her in. I let her speak. I listen to what it is she needs my grown up self to know . I give her the recognition she never had . I give her the encouragement she never got. I tell her I know how clever she is and how brave she is and that I know she has been on her own for a very long time and I am sorry for leaving her out.
I notice a shift in my energy – she is pleased. she is happy and glad that I have listened to her. She is not sad or disappointed anymore. She is pleased I am not scared anymore to let her in. That I am not afraid to feel how she has felt. It has been so long, I had forgotten how deeply sensitive I was, how much more I used to feel, how much it ached to be in the world.
She holds that part of me that is sensitive to everyone around her – empathic and compassionate. Vulnerable and impressionable to the energy around her . She is my childhood self that knew how to be gentle, vulnerable and soft and did not try to change it , but allowed it to be felt.
She is wanting to return – to be allowed in – the protector has been keeping her out .
She says it’s the wrong way round – protector inside keeping her out- it should be her inside, protector outside keeping us all safe. I tell her she’s right …. She knows I didn’t know until now – she says its ok. In all her childhood innocence she is infinitely wise, compassionate and forgiving.
I sense there are essences I need to take to help this child part of me integrate into my adult self – to address the apprehension and anxiety and the wounds of an abandoned, forgotten child in distress – I choose Aspen and Heather and Star of Bethlehem . 3 is a good number she adds. I was born on a 3 day .
As the day continues to pass , I feel the emotions my inner child was unable to express and feel them shift until we have become one whole person. I sense there is still some work to be done to fully integrate the gentle vulnerability that has been waiting so long to return .
There is a negotiation with the protectors to keep the child within me safe.
This child self is no longer on the edges of my being. No longer all alone.
She has returned to me. She has been seen. She has been heard. She has been nurtured and protected and she is once again a part of me.
We are together again- this part of me no longer existing as a child out of time .