Beginning of a Retrospective

Imagine my surprise when I passed through the door to see a little girl waiting. At first, I noticed her beautiful friendly smile. Her hair hung loosely around her shoulders, and her dress, which was a beautiful red colour, hung in tatters around her knees.

As I walked towards my room she skipped along beside me, chattering all the while. Her spark and enthusiasm rubbed off onto me and I suddenly knew that I was going to enjoy this time away in the Grotto.

I walked into my room and felt a cosy warm feeling. Through the french windows, I could see the beautiful gardens, overlooking the lake. The sun was gently sinking to the west and I knew that I was going to sleep well this night.
by Leonie Bryant
Responding to the call to join the Enchantress!


The basic theory of evolution is surprisingly simple. It has three essential parts:

  • It is possible for the DNA of an organism to occasionally change, or mutate. A mutation changes the DNA of an organism in a way that affects its offspring, either immediately or several generations down the line.
  • The change brought about by a mutation is either beneficial, harmful or neutral. If the change is harmful, then it is unlikely that the offspring will survive to reproduce, so the mutation dies out and goes nowhere. If the change is beneficial, then it is likely that the offspring will do better than other offspring and so will reproduce more. Through reproduction, the beneficial mutation spreads. The process of culling bad mutations and spreading good mutations is called natural selection.
  • As mutations occur and spread over long periods of time, they cause new species to form. Over the course of many millions of years, the processes of mutation and natural selection have created every species of life that we see in the world today, from the simplest bacteria to humans and everything in between.

Billions of years ago, according to the theory of evolution, chemicals randomly organized themselves into a self-replicating molecule. This spark of life was the seed of every living thing we see today (as well as those we no longer see, like dinosaurs). That simplest life form, through the processes of mutation and natural selection, has been shaped into every living species on the planet.

Can such a simple theory explain all of life as we know it, explain the creative process?

The Soul Food Cafe is just one example of the truth of this simple theory. Explaining the evolution of Soul Food is a bit like explaining how one species could transform and become another.

Soul Food came into being when computers around the world began to talk to one another. It began as a simple writing directory run by one person and evolved, transformed into the complex site, still run by one person with the support of volunteers. The Soul Food Cafe spread over thousands of pages and was added to by hundreds of people.

In the early days, when the site was primarily a directory, students were encouraged to use Bravenet Forum as a place to publish responses to stimuli directly online. They delighted in seeing their work go into a public arena and enjoyed being able to show family and friends just how computer savvy they were.

As Soul Food began to house and preserve the work of students it began to morph into another shape. Prior to the advent of intuitive programs that removed the need to write HTML it, quite literally, took many hours to code pages and publish student work. Once we began using Bravenet Forums it was possible to copy work from this container and paste it into Student Folio pages within what was named the Student Lounge. Copying and pasting work onto templates dramatically reduced the workload and revealed new possibilities.

As the word about the nature and style of Soul Food spread via Yahoo Groups and email, artists were drawn to the site from all over the world and the site began to mutate and take on a life of its own. It became a place to inhabit rather than just a place to visit and then leave. The first shifts were subtle but with communication channels open and operating the whole thing began to take a new shape.

Once the blogging revolution took hold things really began to evolve and change. The advent of blogs, facilitating multiple users bought a whole new direction. Members of the Yahoo Group who were invited to slip through the portal and meet an Enchantress in The Cave of the Enchantress willingly came knocking on the door

I’ve walked the pathways
lost an hour dreaming by the waterway
launched my winged canoe
and floated past the great white mountain
flown across the sea
and painted a few dolphins during flight
but
when this morning I reached the silence of Umbria
I knew I could not go
into the cavern, or any place beneath the ground
unless I was allowed to take the sunshine with me

Now I have made my gate
and posted it twice
I can press its magic bell
and hope that the enchantress will let me in
with my box and hope that she will let me keep the light
as I wander the strange labyrinth
and seek direction from strangers

by Fran Sbrocchi

This Cave of the Enchantress was one of the first of Soul Food’s collaborative blogs. By 2010 The Soul Food Cafe had almost two hundred collaborative blogs, catering to different genres and concepts.

Romancing the Creative Spirit

Archie Hair’s precious box of wonderment

I have been romancing the creative spirit by wandering back into Soul Food and using tried and true idea generators with children in years 4-6 at Winters Flat Primary School. We have used guided imagery to wander deep within a seashell, through a pearly door to an alternative world. We have chosen fragments from my box of wonder and within seconds of holding it in our hand told stories to one another. We have sat drawing Prince Prospero’s (Edgar Allen Poe Masque of the Red Death) castle and given Red Death a face, written ballads and news reports about the Masque of the Red Death and marvelled at the wisdom of Australian birds and animals.

Children have loved contemplating how to build up their artistic eyes and they have written with speed and passion that is a joy to watch. Words literally fall on to the page within just ten minutes! Ballads, lyrics, complex drawings, news reports, fiction and folklore have emerged on their pages and the excitement, as they share their work and cheer one another on is palpable.

Over the coming weeks, I will be featuring some of their work. It feels good to be romancing the creative spirit again!

Actively seeking that which fulfils my needs

It is no accident that Parrot has flown into my world, encouraging me to keep seeking what nourishes me. Like the parrot, we are each wonderful beings, each gifted with special skills. The parrot’s resplendent colours speak of wearing one’s beauty on the sleeve. The parrot is a gregarious bird who enjoys the interaction with others. After so long tucked up inside my burrow I am happy to be interacting with others.

The parrot also has a great ability to satisfy its needs by foraging for food and nesting places. It is known to eat fruit and seeds and builds nests in all manner of places. Like the parrot, I am actively seeking that which meets my personal needs and the really good news is that a vision is, like a jigsaw puzzle, falling into place.

Life is for the enjoyment of living

It is not surprising that Kookaburra has flown back into my life to remind me to lighten up. Working at Winters Flat Primary for my Masters of Social Work placement feels like I have come full circle. It is a little like a final jigsaw piece falling seamlessly into place. Nonetheless, I have expended more energy than usual and I am tired and emotionally more vulnerable.

Kookaburra has flown in, not only to remind me to treat myself over this weekend but to suggest that everyone have a good look at this article about using your senses to reduce stress! 

Hearing Kookaburra’s laugh reminds me to remember that life is for the enjoyment of living. Since it is so cold and wet here in Castlemaine today I think I will treat my senses to another hot bath in a room filled with some rose incense I picked up.

 

Letting Go

The frilled lizard grows to around 45-90cm in length, about two-thirds of which is tail. It has a vivid yellow mouth and a large extendible frill gathered about the neck and under throat. The combination of the gaping mouth and the wide, brightly coloured frill provide an intimidating sight to any potential predator. It frequently runs at speed on two legs to escape danger, quickly climbing the nearest tree to safety. Their colour can be brown or grey with the frill being lighter and often tinged with orange or reddish-brown. Males are bigger than females and have a more robust appearance. There are two long, pointed canine-like teeth present in the lower jaw, which can inflict a painful bite.

There is so much that we forget to remember. One thing that Lizard has not forgotten is how to let go. Lizard when under threat will let go of its tail as a defence mechanism thereby ensuring his survival, yet we find it hard to let go of the past issues. Remembering these will always be a part of our undoing. If we could only remember to trust and let go our enlightenment would be ensured?

What needs to go! Call on your ability to let go!

Being Honest About Everything

Numbat’s focus on detail leads to an inevitable scrutiny focusing on whether we are being satisfied by life at this current time. Ask yourself if there are things you can change in your life, and things that you want to change.

Be honest about what is right as well as what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life because you are the one person you can forever count on. Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there.

Numbat gives you the power to focus, and dissect the things that are no longer helping you from the things that are.

Setting Intention with Thistle

While walking my dogs I came upon some stunningly beautiful thistles. The thistle has been much maligned. Being a tough plant, the thistle grows everywhere other plants usually don’t. It stands for surviving where others won’t and often this is surviving harsh conditions.

Allow yourself to be seen for your gentleness as well as your strength.

Call in balance and harmony in your emotions.

Give yourself time to grow into your full gifts.

Dive deep internally to fully connect with your hidden gifts and talents.

Forgive yourself and others for not fully appreciating you, and focus on truly loving yourself and what you have to offer.

Read about the symbolism that has been attributed to thistles.

Playfulness Wins the Day

Cockatoo’s Wisdom Includes:

* Understands the power of the sunrise
* Ability to survive harsh conditions
* Communication skills
* Beauty
* Playfulness

The Cockatoo

The cockatoo is a member of the parrot family. Its most noticeable feature is its magnificent crest, which crowns the top of its head. This crest is used to send signals to other birds in the flock. More than a colourful ornament it represents communication. When raised and used with other parts of the body it can indicate several things from defending its territory or its flock, calling for its mate, showing fear or indicating that something is bothering it. True communication is a complex art. The cockatoo knows of this complexity and teaches us how to understand and correctly interpret messages that come our way.

Beautiful in colour and appearance the cockatoo holds the teachings of self-esteem and confidence. The rose and grey coloured galah teach us spontaneity and fearlessness.

These birds are intelligent, affectionate and acrobatic. Adults take care of one another and mate for life. Cockatoos are social birds and enjoy companionship with others of their flock. When danger appears they will either fly off or become very still hoping to remain unnoticed. They are always conscious of their surroundings and are masters in the art of survival. As pets, they are inquisitive and affectionate as well as unpredictable. Known as great escape artists they will use their powerful beaks to open locks on cages.

Coming into contact with one of these birds in the wild or as a pet can be an unforgettable experience. They are extremely ingenious. Watching them perform is like watching a magician pull things out of a hat, you never know what the cockatoo will do next or what hidden skill it will use to complete its task. The cockatoo is a great teacher. It is reminding us to play.

Yesterday I acquired some wonderful books by Marion Deuchers that promote art play. Back in the day, I encouraged students to create figures on their handprints and then use these to create stories. Needless to say, Duechers work with handprints really captured my imagination.

I plan to use these at a primary school where I will be doing my placement and with a small writing group that I am running at home.

How will you play today?

Shadow Work

Donkey and Raven are engaging in some voice dialogue with the shadow to establish this aspects narrative.

Inspirational Transformation

You may not spend a week gorging yourself but just unike the very hungry caterpillar, you can undergo a complete metamorphosis and reinvent yourself repeatedly.

Transformation * Change * Celebrating Life’s Miracles * Magick of the Vortex * Lightness of Being * Joy * Understanding * Reincarnation * Seeing Time as an Illusion * Communication with the Spirit World

It’s hard to imagine any creature being so loved by so many civilizations and across so many traditions than the Butterfly. They have captured our fancy since time immemorial. As children, we found our imagination carried away on their painted wings, to the fantastical realms of fairies and elves. And as adults, we are beckoned back to the memories of those magical days, whenever we see these beautiful insects flutter dreamily past.

One has only to think about the miraculous life cycle of these amazing creatures to witness true magick. They begin as larvae in its most basic and vulnerable state, the fuzzy, wriggly form of the caterpillar. Then they enter their self-made cocoon, a time capsule that holds them in what seems like a suspended embrace, but in reality is more akin to a portal of metamorphosis. Finally, the chrysalis breaks, and an entirely new emerging, this one with wings of such ethereal beauty that our minds can scarcely grasp how such a previously odd and rather uninteresting creature, could transform into such a resplendent wonder.

If this stunning insect has chosen to journey with you as a Spirit Guide, count yourself fortunate, for theirs is the Magick of the Fairy realm, the miracle of transformation, and the teachings of one who passionately embraces change. They are a Spirit Animal that guides through the imagination, and imbues their human counterpart with a sense of joy and the ability to celebrate the special miracles we all encounter as we walk through this life.

Butterfly is beside you to teach you that you should always strive to keep your sense of wonder, to find the miracles in the tiniest of places, and to always look for ways in which you can create more beauty in your life, in the lives of others, and in the world at large. She teaches you that time is but an illusion in the greater reality of our immortal souls, whilst simultaneously reminding you that each moment is precious and filled with limitless possibilities.

Source: The Dream Faire

Capacity to Transform

As an amphibian, frog experiences a major shift in reality as he transforms from a pollywog to an adult hopper.  In this way, frog gets to live two distinct lives in one lifetime. Humans also have this ability to transform, but we can do so multiple times in one lifetime if we allow emotional processes to run their full course in us.  We are not the same person we were at the age of ten or twenty and as our world gets bigger we are constantly finding ourselves, returned to a state of limited resources.

The pollywog has no other resource save his excitement for life. He swims and propels through the stuff of life with a pure and ambitious energy and slowly starts to develop arms and legs and other tools to play with his pond more completely.  There is a frustration in our limitations, but if we allow those frustrations to crush our spirit we leave the very effort that will see us through to greater freedom.

Frog says keep loving, keep hoping, keep swimming with all the energy you have and one day that effort will propel you forward in a great leap upon new shores.

Life is Adventuring

 

My old school song began with the lines “Life is Adventuring, beyond the far horizon”. I honestly cannot remember the rest of the song but I do know that life is an adventure when you have lots of coloured pencils, and are able to travel through a portal into another universe, prance along with pipers and meet big friendly giants.

Nothing Ventured! Nothing Gained!

Raven: “Nothing ventured! Nothing gained! Right?”
Donkey: “I am hoping we don’t regret following this piper?”
Raven: ” Well if we don’t take the risk we might miss an important opportunity!”
Donkey: “Ben Franklin also said that lost time is never found again!”

Lingering Longer

One of the joys of having no advanced booking is that you can linger longer and enjoy living like a local with new friends.