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 …
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.
You don’t have to go far to look for the medicine you need, its often right on your door step ,or in your garden. Its in those flowers that keep catching your eye and those trees you keep being drawn to sit beneath .
It’s in those plants in fields you dismiss as weeds and in the energy of the woodland or moorland you are drawn to visit .
I have always had a connection with trees and plants long before I trained as an essence practitioner , learning to tune into the needs of others to discern the essences that can best support them come back to balance .
I’m often suddenly drawn on a whim ( though not by accident ! ) to create an essence that helps address a particular state I happen to be experiencing. I’ll have got stuck usually and be lost as to how I can move forward so I turn to the nature kingdom and my guides and ask if there is an essence I can take to help . Sometimes the reply will be to make one as the one I need doesn’t exist .
Last Autumn Equinox I was guided to make an essence from the energy of this time of transition, in my own garden. The process actually started two days before the equinox itself but it was part of the alchemy of the essence .
It was a windy tempestuous day full of sun then rain and wind and hail and cloud then blue skies . I was given a process to follow and I did . I wasn’t even sure at first what it was for or if it would “work”, but those intentions became clear as the making unfolded.
The next day was so still even the clouds didn’t move . No leaves moved . No breeze blew.No sounds in the space at all . All the chaos of the day before had dropped into absolute calm. And I sat hearing the traffic around me ,the turbulence of the world out side my garden and marvelled at the stillness , presence and calm within it .
As time passed and I noted the subtle signs of the environment around me , the messages of the energy of the space and it became clear the essence is to support us find calm in chaos , balance in turbulent times , our center when we are scattered.
It’s medicine from the Earth. She has all you need to heal .
I have used this essence numerous times when things seem to be moving too fast or become too hectic. It helps to settle and bring inner calm and a centred space , clearing confusion and helping bring clarity. Its supportive during seasonal transitions or when there is a shift into rapid movement that can overwhelm or disorient us.
We can learn so much from our world if we take time to listen and follow our inner prompts .
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.)
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.