The first task I had when taking on this space was to clear the dead wood and brambles left to over grow for years .
Not an easy task but after a few weeks of steady perseverance, the majority of the thorns had been tamed . I’d pitched a little tea making spot beneath the elder and began to observe as spring brought a surge of growth to the land. What had been bare and barren and quite frankly looked a huge mess , began to transform before me into a beautiful woodland paradise.
It became clear early on we would need pathways to make getting round the site easier for people but also so wildlife habitat wasn’t being trampled on. It took a while to sit with the space and work out where best to place them. Some , like the path from the entrance to the compost to the meadow were straight forward and self evident. It was the how of it that started the first conversation with the land .
I wondered back and forth for days trying to work out what to use . Weed membrane? Wood bark ? Stone gravel ? Do i buy stuff in ? Card board ?
The answer came from the land itself as piles of dead sticks from last years flowers mounted up and as the dead grass and moss was raked to make space for shoots and new growth . “use whats here already”
And so the winding path beneath the willows was made of soft green moss and stalks . I continued it past the compost heap and towards the meadow. And then after a sudden spell of snow the sun warmed the land and the site exploded into its spring growth . The paths were overwhelmed and it has become evident that my initial reluctance to put down the weed membrane was not such a bad idea.
By not putting it down immediately I learnt 2 lessons- one that it was in fact a good idea and two that the site needs much wider pathways than I anticipated especially during summer ! I also got to learn why they need more room and the kinds of plants that the land is home too.
Nettle , thistle and common hog weed grow incredibly tall during summer if left unchecked. As do the grasses . They are all vital food and habitat for wildlife and sources of nutritious forage for people. And the site is abundant with them ! Its wonderful but also means it needs to be managed if people are going to access the site on a regular basis . And without weed membrane down the paths need clearing every two or three days . Leave it more than a week and they disappear beneath the green .
There’s something deeply satisfying in taking time to work with and negotiate with the land about what is done and when and why.
By allowing myself to go step by step guided by the space and the wisdom of the garden , by not rushing to impose a solution but giving the place time to show me how it grows I have been able to figure out not just what i need but what the place needs. What the wildlife needs. What the plants need. Where they grow , how they grow and how that effects how the space is used and becomes shaped.
It has allowed me to consider what kinds of workshops and activities might be best suited to here and what can be foraged and utilised for them . And what needs to be left alone . To grow . To keep the balance.
It also reminded me of how we build new neural pathways in our brain by learning new things and doing things new ways . The physical act of laying new paths in the outside mirrors the creating of new pathways within. And so it goes with permaculture. Undoing my human learning to do to , rather than with all beings not just the human .
As I continue to deepen the relationship to place and land it begins to open up and speak more. Nudging me here to do this and there to do that. Advising when to leave alone , stay away or come closer and help out. There are times I notice i am stuck internally and in danger of forcing things to happen and the wisdom of the land supports and offers its advice . To stop. Go home . Rest. Come back in a few days . Do something else for a while . And I do and it works. Things shift and move.
Nature can be harsh and unforgiving in its wildness at times but it is also very giving and patient and welcoming. It shares its abundance and its wisdom willingly . When we are able to listen and hear what it has to say and let go of our human need to control everything. Thinking we know best .
Since taking the site on in April my self and the land have been getting to know each other . It felt important not to rush in with my own ideas of what to do with the space . It felt important to settle in with the place and let it speak to me .
I check and ask its permission before doing anything. I have noticed that often after any cutting or clearing or when i have made a new area I leave the site alone for a while . It seems to “ enough” let me get used to it .
What is unfolding is a beautiful relationship between myself and space . Where boundaries are not just for people. Where vision and potential are part of a reciprocal relationship between self and other . Human and other than human.
There is a lot of negotiation and compromise and the land often has a much better idea of what will work where than I do . So I listen to it . I only work on what feels right to be worked on .. some days I just turn up , drink tea and listen to the bird song . And some times thats all I need to do . Sit. Listen. Ponder. Potter.
I have had a dream for a long , long time . A dream many others have of having access to land . Land I can get to know and work with . Land that I can practice my Wild Therapy , flower essences and shamanic work from .
Since setting up 3 years ago I have had various trials tribulations set backs and difficulties that often brought me to the “ should i just give up and let go of this” stage – was I just chasing a pipe dream ?
Was Space for nature ever going to find a place ? A home ? A base ? I have dreamed for years of a woodland space of my own – a little yurt , wildflower and herb beds – a place the tired and world weary can come to reset , recharge and relax with no expectations and no pressure. The place I needed all those years of struggling.
Not inside , not around too many people, in touch with the ground , plants , birds and animals. Somewhere i could offer my time to others in a healing capacity, a listening ear , a cup of tea .
It appears the world was listening and answered my call . I took a gamble on my dreams at the end of last year. I followed my heart with only a rough plan and some wild ideas to carry me and this week I got the keys to this beautiful space.
An unusable old allotment, disused for 19 years , over grown with Ivy and brambles and who knows what else!!
Its huge ! Its wild , its going to take a lot of work but I am determined to create a Space for nature – a community space on land that has been essentially abandoned and uncared for the past 19 years .
I feel a new beginning arising . A bloody big challenge but I can’t say I ever shied away from the improbable or the difficult.
I will need many generous , earth loving souls to support me . Many who will allow me through their support to realise an ambitious vision. People who have my back and wish to see me succeed .
I have land, I have a dream and I intend to gift it back to my local community so they will always have a beautiful place not far away they can feel they belong to. Where their dreams can have space to evolve and grow. In their own time . Where they can receive healing from connection to nature , to the wild , to each other .
I feel fairly grounded and certain I can do this . One tiny step at a time . In no rush. first is to go meet the land and get to know it . Work WITH it .
Strangely I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.
I’m going to start in one corner and take it a day at a time .
I’ve just returned from a beautifully nurturing, nourishing and wonderfully held Wild Therapy taster weekend .
It was lovely to connect in the flesh with real people during what has been an often difficult and isolating period.
My main role was fire tending and water keeping – keeping people warm and with brews and holding the observer position, part of the group,yet just outside of it. Noticing.
I often take sometime to commune with the land and the space and often receive poems to share during these times. This one was the one that came during this weekend. These experiences often rekindle a deep connection to the wilderness and the other than human that many people find deeply connecting and sustaining. They remember something. They make time for stillness, pause and reflection. And the wild works its medicine through all of them.
Listen to the voices of the wind.. Its medicine, You need that
Listen to the voices of the water Its medicine You need that
Listen to the voices of the fire Its medicine You need that
Listen to the voices of the land Its medicine You need that !
Go to the forrest and speak to them They are longing for your company
That tree you love so much ? Its medicine
That plant you are being drawn to That rock , that stone, that feather , its medicine, You need that !
The beetle longs to tell you the secret of its shell , The butterfly, the squirrel, the hazel tree, the crow All are waiting for you …
I often wander the woods near my home. Its a helpful place to go when I have a dilemma. The woods has lots of useful information to share if you know how to find it, if you listen , if you learn how to look for it , if you ask and it feels like sharing with you.
Its part of how I work with people in the wild wisdom I offer. Its a way of reconnecting to our selves as part of nature and a way of remembering how we used to know.
Its often a case of paying attention and letting your self be guided by the other than human. Sometimes its a case of wandering with a question in mind and seeing what arises as you go. What you encounter as you walk, what you see that might have meaning for you. Sometimes its about sitting still and not thinking at all.
As we have time now in lockdown, as 2020 takes a turn in an unanticipated direction, amidst the chaos and crisis its really important to allow yourself to stop . To slow down . To ground.
For those who can get out into nature in a garden , for a walk – now is a great time to bring in awareness of the other around you . For those who can not go out it is still possible to pay attention and notice what is occurring around and within you at this time .
To hear what your inner-self may be asking or needing from you .
To listen and hear what the land may be saying . The birds . The insects. The rocks. What wisdom do these others have for us if we stop to pay a little more attention?
When our connection to each other is being reduced physically- what does this offer us in extending our connection to other aspects of nature ?
How can a more tactile relationship with leaves and moss and stone alleviate our lack of physical closeness?
What tiny wonders can we appreciate in our living spaces ? the warm sun through the window ; how does that feel if we let it in ?
The breeze from an open door ?
The soft touch of a favourite blanket or jumper ?
How can we invite our senses and our tactile natures to be comforted and stimulated where physical contact may not be possible for some of us ?
Can we extend our contact to the other than human and through this enter a richer , deeper sense of connectedness and wellbeing ?
What ways do we have to meet our need for comfort when the usual ways are no longer available?
I am used to not having physical contact , for numerous reasons- that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.
I have always gone to the land for comfort from being a child – it has always been my go to place.
It is always there . It is always waiting . It is always listening.
And I wonder how many will take the opportunity in these difficult times to turn back to the earth ? How many will remember earth as kin ? How many will seek out natures comfort?
How can we remain in touch with ourselves and our connections between ourselves and other at a time of separation and social isolation?
It feels like an invitation to recognise our non human connections- to remember that we are never truly alone. That we are always held in an interconnected web of life by numerous beings .
If we can allow ourselves not to limit the notion of togetherness to only people , we can find our way through loneliness and see and feel our interconnectedness to all of life’s sentient nature.
Your home is a being – spend time with it – ask it what it needs.
Your house plants are beings – get to know them – sing to them – spend time with them.
Listen to the birds – let yourself hear their conversations- what are they saying to one another ? This can be a fun conversation to have with children . A little bit of imagination and creative play .
Allow these little bits of time connecting to the other than human to flow into inspiration for stories , poems , pictures , projects .
In such an anxious time for many its the little pockets of whimsy and curiosity, the tiny moments of fun , the little ways of letting go of the usual “rules” that open up little doors to nourishing spaces. To new energies of hope and comfort.
We may not be able to go far . But the world is always here with you .
Find small ways of letting its beauty in.
Allow its presence to be with you , to hold you , to nourish you .
You are never truly alone. Nature is with you, always.
Spending time in nature is not only good for our mental and physical wellbeing , its good for our soul. We were created to live in harmony with the natural world not to be seperated from it.
When you reconnect to this earth you belong too , you reconnect to a lost part of your own being.
Regular time spent engaging with the wildness of nature , observing its cycles , noting the effects of the weather , learning the cycles of growth and decay – puts you in touch with a much wider circle of life – it brings a greater understanding of our own innate being.
It allows you to become aquatinted with other. That which is other than human and to see how we are deeply interconnected to a wider web of living and life .
You begin to notice the similarities and differences in being and realise how diverse this marvellous creation called Earth, really is.
Thats why I trained as a Wild Therapist.
For me there is something that happens when we take healing connection outside and allow nature to become part of the process. Something profound takes place. Sometimes obvious , sometimes much more subtle – but things always move and shift.
Perspectives change. However temporarily. Room gets made for new connections. Space is created for exploration and enquiry , curiosity and playfulness.
We allow ourselves to drop deeper , tensions abate , breathing deepens , even in our raw edges and painful places we feel held by an invisible love.
A love we may not know yet. A love we may find hard to bare. But it is there.
The love from nature. Silently waiting for us to reach out to it .
Patiently waiting for us all to come home.
If you would like to explore this healing connection with nature in a therapeutic capacity contact Alexa at firstname.lastname@example.org or look at the Wild Wisdom page for more information.
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 .