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 am sat in my garden admiring the stillness and the warm glow of the rising sun as it peers over my fence and illuminates the lemon balm.
The sky is azure blue and cloudless and I sit in my hammock as the East is ablaze with a full round sun , blinding to gaze upon.
I am sitting with polarities. The polarity between grace and rage in these turbulent times . I am aware that I am aching to connect.
What I miss is connection. Connection with depth. The rich soul depth of true contact with another being.
I swim in rich internal pools of wonder and longing , naive and guileless, full of childlike wonder and innocence. I marvel at newly spun webs on the ash , the filaments of rainbow light that appear through cracks as I squint my eyes.
I am flighty and skittish – easily spooked. A foal finding her legs. I am often clumsy in the way I take to this body and its place on the earth. I often stumble about until something clicks and I can prance and throw my head as I skip and frolick , jerkily moving more life into my body and my limbs .Free yet contained and constrained by the physical limitations, a part of me confused as to why I can only expand to fill up so much space.
I can not be everywhere as I wish to be. I cannot fully touch the all that is . I can only anchor in a small part of this universe and it feels a little … uncomfortable …uncertain.
I am not sure if I like it or care for it much . It is alien to a part of me that has been to the sun and knows the cosmos as a brother. I feel estranged and forgotten and abandoned down here – where are they ?
They have left me with friends they say;
“With the trees and with mountain, with forrest and with hill
They will look after you.
With flowers and river and ocean, they will comfort you
With wind and with rain and with fire, they will welcome you, nourish you, revive you” they say , but still i am lost and my heart aches for the stars that are my home.
In the stillness of morning before the raucus caw of gul and crow and the quiet song of the morning birds, I hear the static of the atmoshpere warming as the Sun ascends on the horizon. I hear the fizz of atoms heating up. I feel the energetic shift from cool still night to dawning day .
I hear it crackle imperceptibly all around me . It’s this invisible sound that stirs and wakes my sleeping body each new day. Its magnetic pull that lulls me from the dream of sleep to the lucidity of wakefullness.
It leaves a heaviness , a sadness , of a soul returned to its box . I try not to let this realisation dampen my day but it feels like dead weight i can not bear to carry.
I look up and remember the sun , lazily surfacing over the rooftops and feel it lighten my being . I feel the joy and energy of life in my heart. Excitement and possibilities come to my window and invite me to play.
And I sit between the ache of longing for what cannot be and the joy of what can be created.
I sit between the darkness and the dawn wishing to be lifted back into the sun
Back into the earth
Back into the world
Back into life
And i carry with me both joy and sorrow
Belonging and loss
Fire and water
Strength and tenderness
Fear and courage
Hope and hopelessness
Grace and rage
And i take each day as it comes.
Touching into painful places ;I nourish them with warmth and light, courage and conviction, acceptance of what is.
Inhaling possibility, exhaling all that is done and gone.
A few months ago , back in the summer , the news was filled with the stories of the fires raging in the Amazon. Considered to be the lungs of the earth.
As more of the earth is being ravaged , we are experiencing alarming rates of species decline and extinction , loss of habitat , a decrease in bio diversity and as a changing climate creates more environmental uncertainty , world leaders feel unmoved to act in any meaningful capacity.
In truth the Amazon was not the only forest burning. There were bush fires raging across the globe due to drought , bad land management and will-full and deliberate slash and burn policies to clear land for agriculture, with no thought for the consequences. The recent bush fires claiming Australia bring the reality of our current crisis into sharp focus.
Our beautiful Earth is ruined. Her losses mount up day by day . The land erosion, the air & water pollution , the species extinction . By disconnecting the indigenous peoples from their lands , their cultures , their position of caretakers of the lands they were once custodians of , a great deal of important knowledge has been ignored. About maintaining balance in our world , about reciprocal relationship and interconnectedness . About taking only what we need and honouring the beings we share this Earth with for what they offer us in order for us to survive.
Capitalism took over and now we are reaping what we have sown . Whilst many cultures in all places this has happened , have been slowly re-building and re-generating their ancient wisdom and piecing together lost knowledge, adapting and seeking new ways to revive the old ways , change is slow to come. As a species , humans have lost their place in the natural world and everything has suffered as a result.
It leaves many of us overwhelmed. Anxious. Afraid for the future of our children and grand children. It leaves us numb and apathetic. It brings some of us waves of hope that we can change our current trajectory , followed by waves of despair when we realise just how much work there is yet to be done . Even if we collectively make a radical shift and did all the things we can possibly do right now to make the changes necessary – there is no guarantee it will make any difference. And I know many people , who have dedicated their lives to the cause of making positive changes to save this precious Earth , are themselves doubtful. We are facing difficult ,turbulent and challenging times ahead.
But there is always hope.
The solution for many is to fall in love again with the Earth. With our connection to each other. To land ,to place, to all the beings we live with; plant , animal , insect, fish, mountain ,river ,stone. What I call Landcestors. To remember them as kin. To re-kin-dle our relationship to life. Even if only to tend to the grieving and honouring of all that’s been lost and all that is dying. Even if only to make the most of what remains and to keep living and keep pushing for change. Because it matters and it might make a difference after all.
It was as I watched the Amazon burn and felt rather helpless to do anything useful to change things , that I felt inspired to find a creative response to share the experience. I was not the only one feeling the grief and the rage of living on a planet where people prioritise profit above life.
I wrote a single line and could write no more. I decided to share it on Facebook and Instagram and invite others to add their own verse. I collated each of them in the order I discovered them on the feeds and the result was a beautiful co -created prayer , an offering to the other than human , an acknowledgement of the situation , a healing balm.
This poem became a ritual for me for several days – each day I would offer a new verse to the world and once all contributions had been made – I went out into a wild place and performed the whole piece to the land. I offered the sorrow and the hopes.
And so here it is. With much appreciation and gratitude to the contributors – D.A.Tarot , Peter Yanowski , Soul Flower Sharon , Sarah Fay Taylor (Roots and Resonance ), Tracey Dean and Sharon Murphy.
Love song to a dying world
Today I’ll walk amongst the trees that aren’t on fire
to feel the presence of natures wisdom
and taste the charred messages
from this ancient kingdom.
Touching one tree
connecting to all
our roots go deep;
holding one another
we feel it all.
They in turn feel our love
and I allow my heart to open
and my healing love to flow
as I hold tightly to a vision
of the world remembering.
With desire to learn
and not witness humanity dissolve.
The forest cries out choked,
as feather meets ash ,fur and flesh
cleaved into the waters burning orange ,
as fire goes into spirit…
A stalking predator,
padding into the Throne Room of The Misguided,
walks beside me.
I will call out to the animals, the birds, the insects,
all the creatures who call to my soul asking… why?
what have we done?
We love you all unconditionally, can you love us this way too ?
Where the first part of this journey took place after Samhain – this second part followed naturally from it , aligned with the theme of the winter solstice – that of returning from the dissolution of death to conception – to the first spark of light and life after experiencing the transformation of ‘death’ – as I journeyed through the layers that keep me from deeply embodied presence, until I reached the ‘void’ – a timeless place where all is , and all is yet to be . In the ‘before’ state of becoming.
Embodiment requires you to drop out of the head space ,the place of thinking and judging, observing and questioning, answering and processing external stimuli.
It requires you to drop down from the mind space and in to the physical space of the body you inhabit, the space of feeling and sensing. We can often believe we are in this place as it feels impossible to conceive that we are in fact existing outside of ourselves , in our thinking , in our heads , separated from our bodies by our minds.
I recently found a space , over a weekend , to be completely still for a prolonged period of time and in this time I journeyed inwards. It was a spontaneous decision that arose from wondering ‘what happens if I choose to do absolutely nothing ?’ So I followed the impulse.
I lay down and did nothing but consciously bring myself and my attention into my body. For several hours I came back into myself .
For the first time in nearly 2 decades I experienced a profound sense of contentment , a long forgotten yet familiar experience of oneness with myself and my environment. An echo of a memory of womblike safety and comfort . Nothing required of me , except to be . A blissfully euphoric experience.
I encountered many profound realisations in this place that I continued to process for several days afterwards – most notably my desire to return to that state and live within it permanently – followed by another realisation that it is not a state we can inhabit all the time in this world . There is too much going on. But it is a place we can visit and restore ourselves in from time to time .
On the one hand this was a very easy journey to make in and of itself , however its been years of work to arrive at a point where it became possible. The conditions just happened to be the right ones .
So I share with you here my journey , my Embodied Initiation. The poem is in 2 parts . The second part, Entering The Void will follow in my next blog .
Initiation Embodied- part 1
I drop down , down from the mind space ,
down ,down, down ,into the body space
and meet the numb indifference,
the pain, the anger, the sadness, the rage,
The fear, the anxiety, the empty spaces where ‘I’ used to be.
The hollows where ‘I’ used to feel .
The absences where ‘I’
I sense the breaks , the fractures, the rips in the fabric of my being and
I follow the painful and uncomfortable sensations;
The awkwardness, the restlessness,
the bruising and the stitches.
The aching and the cramping,
the heaviness and the stiffness.
The conflicting need to run and be motionless,
petrification and endless turmoil; flowing in,
only to be catapulted out again in fear,
in anxiety , in shock.
In shame , in guilt, in bitterness,
Back and forth between body and mind
I can anchor a sense of safety in myself.
I can find the part of me that is always standing strong .
Unshakable and present.
Until I trust this part is here for me.
Until it has proven itself to me a thousand times
and never let me down.
I keep coming back to myself , until all is well
and then I drop down.
Down , down ,down into the body
that I used to know;
that I used to feel;
That I used to love,
before it was broken.
And I drop down deeper ,
under the skin.
Into the abyss.
And enter the void.
(All words and image copyright The Well of Belonging 2018.)
I haven’t felt compelled to write a blog post for quite a while as I’ve been focusing my energy else where , but with the season shifting to Autumn and the approach of Samhain , a time when the veils between worlds thins and we connect in with our ancestors I felt it time to offer another poem and my newest Otherworldly Art creation.
I’m reminded of my connection to the earth , her cycles and seasons , her elements and her nature regularly. The Goddess comes in many forms and many guises to many people . I often wonder who else out there is aware of her presence in their daily lives – who else catches her out of the corner of their eye when walking the woods or strolling along the hills ? Who else feels her presence within them and around them in times of need ? Who else hears her calling.?
Do you see her
Amongst the trees ?
Her skirts that stir the gentle breeze.
Her light reflected all around.
Her footsteps woven in the ground.
Do you hear her
Upon the hill?
In whispers, when the mind is still,
The calling forth of voice in song,
That speaks of where the heart belongs.
Do you feel her
Along the shore ?
of ebbing, flowing seas that roar,
As tidal forces kiss the earth.
As life brings forth more life
Do you know her
Amongst the flames ?
Of hearth fires lit
And ashes claimed
Of light in darkness,
The pathway shown,
Within the embers gentle glow.
Do you see her
In your own eyes?
In winter boughs
And summer skies.
In autumn leaf,
And springs frost thawed.
In things that fly and swim and crawl.
In loves great loss
And deaths embrace,
In cruel moments snatched by fate.
In tempers frayed and words miss spoken.
In homes abandoned.
In half seen glimpses
of time to come.
In words of grace
And welcomes home.
In starlit black
And blinding sun.
In deaths rebirth as life’s begun.
Do you see her
Amongst the trees ?
Her skirts that stir the gentle breeze.
Her light reflected all around .
Her footsteps woven in the ground.
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,