Saturday, 28 November 2009

Tree Planting - The journey, a ritual, and a little bit of magic

This post is for me. Its personal, and sad, and maybe you'd rather not read it. But if you do, I really don't mind as long as you understand that this is something I need to air to myself and this is my forum to do so.

Tree planting

Today was tree planting day at the nature reserve. I've been looking forward to this day and planting our Hazel tree. I'd found this ritual on the web and wanted to use it to bless the tree, the site and my baby girls.

Tree Planting Ritual

Begin with the tree, the hole already dug, a pile of earth beside the
and a bowl or watering can of water.

Stand facing East, and say:

"In recognition of the Earth my mother and of the sky my father, and of
true source beyond all things, I ask that I may plant this tree, to
bring clear
air to the blue sky, and rich soil to the dark earth.
May it grow tall and strong
- its roots reaching deep into its home,
its leaves reaching ever higher
towards the sun."

Hold your hands over the pile of earth and say:

"I ask that this earth might be blessed, and that it might feed and
this young sapling well."

Pick up the tree and as you plant it, talk to the tree, either out loud or

"May you grow fine and tall."

When it is planted, hold your hands over the water and say:

"May this water be blessed, may it refresh and sustain this young

Pour the water around the base of the tree, and then holding both arms
towards the tree, say:

"In earth and water will you grow. In the air will your leaves speak as
reach towards the fire of the sun. We respect and honour and
admire you,
O tree, and all trees, for you represent both Peace and
though you are mighty you hurt no creature. Though you sustain
us with
your breath, you will give up your life to house and warm and
teach us.

We give thanks for your blessing upon our lives and upon our lands.
you fare well in this chosen place."

In reality it didn't happen this way. I woke up flustered and grew more anxious as we neared the site. I'm surprised I have any tears left to shed, I feel like I've irrigated the entire county and all of its neighbours these past few months.

We had told my 3 year old daughter that today we would be planting a tree. As we all know, the world revolves around every toddler so my daughter obviously understood that to mean that she would be doing the planting. She picked up our precious sapling and flung it around like a majorette twirls her mace before plonking it unceremoniously into the hole, upside down. I heard my intake of breath as my heart rested in my mouth and I gasped 'be gentle'. It all turned out all right in the end, the tree was planted. My daughter helped pack the earth around the roots with her hands, as she did on the days her sisters were buried. You've got to love that girl, I''m sure she was born a healer.

The 'rabbit guard' was placed on the tree. In my minds eye, I had thought of these guards as protection against deer. Do you know how happy I was to hear that it is there to protect against rabbits, although it is hares that are a real problem for the trees? An abundance of hares, how magical :)

The picture below was taken today. A wonderful view of the Cotswolds.

The Journey

In March my baby girl was stillborn. Blindly groping around in the dark, asking for direction and place to rest our loved child, we stumbled across a green burial ground. We connected with a sensitive, healing soul who thoughtfully lined our baby's grave with twigs and flowers. If only she knew how much she touched our hearts and helped us heal.

In June, we returned for a visit. I had a kindred spirit visiting from Seattle. She has become part of family over the years so we brought here on route to the Rollright Stones. The sun was shining, the birds sang, butterflies and ladybirds blessed us with their presence and as we picnicked we felt peace in our hearts, beauty in our minds and daisy chains in our hair. It was a happy day.

We saw the plaque for the first time. I had struggled so much over choosing the right words. Many of you know that I believed I couldn't draw. During my initial period of grief this remained true in my heart. Again, this sensitive, healing lady offered her help and drew the template for Nina's plaque. I hope she knows how much she is appreciated.

On July 30th I went to hospital for tests. I was advised that the baby I was carrying was dead. It was so heartbreaking as i had a scan a few days earlier and the baby was so full of life, kicking around, moving so much. I think I'd managed to stay so strong up until this point. There had been tears, of course. But who is strong enough for this?

In September, we were ale to bury our second lost daughter. Once more, this wonderful healer and sensitive soul lined the grave with sunflower petals from her garden. This time, I made the felt myself from wool that I had dyed in blackberries. My daughter rescued a caterpillar that had fallen into the grave. Next, we placed earth gently around my baby's shroud and filled the grave up until it was full. This is something I hadn't felt able to do for Nina. It felt cleansing, a part of the ritual of healing. I've been such a mess these past months.

And a little bit of magic....

Earlier in the summer, Susan of Artspark Theatre sent me one of her travelling Alice's. We photographed Alice at the nature reserve back in June. It was the happy uplifting visit that we had to the burial ground. I'm thankful to Susan for lending us magic and bringing it to Nina.

I am blessed with a living daughter. Right now her favourite film is Princess Mononoke. A while ago, she asked me to felt her something from the film. I needle felted some tree sprites. Children of the ancient trees. To see these sprites is an indicator that the forest is healthy. Today we popped a tree baby on each of my babies graves.

In October it had been bulb planting day. We didn't make it ourselves, and once again, this magical lady to whom I have so much gratitude, planted wood anemone around my babies graves. I chose wood anemone after reading an Irish BTCV site page about how seeing wood anemone was a sign that there had once been a magnificent forest in that place. Wood anemone are now known as the ghosts of the forest.

The optimist in me hopes that if we retrace our steps and wind back time then the great forests will thrive again. With this in mind, we chose the wood anemone, and placed felt tree sprites around the graves knowing that the spirit of the forest will live again and this site will thrive.

Friday, 20 November 2009

A Short Break

Hi everyone. I'm going to take a short holiday from blogging. My projects are getting bigger and taking longer to complete and I'm also on a bit of an emotional overload right now so I think a short break would do me good. See you all in a week or two x

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Made4Aid: Welsh Mountains- Felt Picture

This is a picture that I have donated to Made4Aid to help raise much needed money for refugees in Darfur. You can buy my lovely artwork by clicking on the link below. The auction begins at $30/£18 (a bargain for a felt painting of this size) .

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Birth Chart Mandala

Mixed Media - Pencils, coloured pencils, water colour, acrylics, oil pastels, extracts of proverbs (negativity removed), PVA glue

For the past 9 days I've been taking part in a pilot for Patricia Ariel's new online workshop 'Creative Astrology'. I've been quite blown away by the revelations of my birthchart. So much has been explained and makes sense now. There has been some really great group discussions. I think i'll feel at a loose end when the course closes tomorrow.

A couple of days ago Ariel circulated a message to the group titled 'One or two things I know about art'. It was such a sweet nurturing email telling us to cast aside all doubts about our abilities as artists. Art is instinctive and often, the doubts we have about our creative expressions are simply echoes of the things that were said to us in childhood. They are not true.

What I have discovered about myself during this course is that I really LOVE painting, drawing, collage, mixed media. Its such great fun. I learned that I assumed I was not any good at this aspect of creativity. But if I think about it, I can't remember trying this style of art since my early teens.

When did you last pick up a paint rush, or try the artistic form of expression that you tell yourself that you simply cannot do? Give it a go, you might surprise yourself.

Below are some pictures showing the artwork of Patricia Ariel. Please click on the pictures to visit Ariel's websites. Thank you Ariel.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Astrology of the Birth Chart and the Castle of the Psyche

Theme Thursday is all about castles this week. Castles can be historical, metophorical, psychological, mythalogical and even astrological.

This week I began an online 'Creative Astrology' workshop hosted by the amaizing artist Patricia Ariel of 'Mesmorized by the Sirens'. The workshop is based around our birthcharts and by the end of the 10 day course we should be able to produce our own personal mandala's which tap into our creative energies using the ancient art of astrology.

So far we have discussed the historic and psychological connections to astrology. I have learned that Jung and other psychologists incorporated astrology in helping clients understand the positive aspects of their personalities and to build on them. I have learned how astrology is used as a tool in assisting self actualisation.

Coming from the helping professions and having studied counselling I was fascinated to hear psychological and counselling terminology being used in reference to astrology. I had never considered astrology in this way before. Eager to find out more, I searched the web and came across an essay 'The Astrology of the Birth Chart and The Castle of the Psyche'. In brief, this essay discusses the theories of Jung and Hamaker-Zondag by metophirically likening the midheaven position of the birth chart to a castle standard. It discusses how the standard (flag) helps those apoproaching the castle decide whether you are friend or foe and if they should proceed or turn back. The essay discusses how judgements have already been made and opinions formed before the oncomer ever reaches the castle (self) and this influences relationships. The castle standard represents the Jungian concept of the 'social persona', the reputation. The social persona protects the inner 'psyche' showing the world what we want it to see.

It is interesting to see how well this is acheived. Do others regard us in the same light that we regard ourselves? Does the way that we regard ourselves reflect the true self?

Yesterday, I was presented with my birth chart. I don't really understand it so will spend some time this evening coming to terms with it and learning what the symbols and positions relate to. Before I understand these symbols, I thought it would be intersting to create a pseudo mandala incorporating symbols that I connect with myself and that astrology has given me to see how it compares to my birth chart.

If your home is your castle and home is where the heart is, my home and castle is under the canopy of an ancient tree in a wildflower meadow. Below is a painting I began in the summer while my friend was visiting from Seattle. Painting and drawing have never been strengths of mine but I have enjoyed making this painting and the mandala above.

To see some beautiful Goddess and fantasy artwork please visit Patricia Ariel at 'mesmorized by the sirens'. Thank you.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Echinacea Scarfette

Charge up the immune system with a little warmth and beauty this winter