Category Archives: Wild Play

In the Beginning

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

The seed I planted, when I began working on the idea of what I would do while I was Waiting for Godot, was planted back in November 2014. At that time I established a small visual journal and undertook to draw a donkey, with a raven companion, each day. Like me, they were waiting for Godot to provide some inspiration. I maintained the practice for three months, adding clippings and poems by poets such as Mary Oliver to my journal.

Then I got distracted! I enrolled to do a Masters of Social Work at Monash  University and my notebook, pencils and the idea lay idle.

But things have a way of growing by delay and after a daunting first semester last year I actively established this site. A series of creative projects have brought me back to my notebook. I was surprised by how a sense of fun dripped out of my drawings.

I have begun to draw again, in conjunction with the still-hunting that Ted Andrews inspired me to undertake! I do not need to know where any of this is going! All I know is that the creative spirit is growing as vigorously as Jack’s beanstalk.

Tunnel Deeply

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week six and the creative force has produced the Echidna to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat have been initiating.

Echidna teaches us the value of focusing on the little things. Paying attention to the small details can make the bigger picture that much more successful and nourishing. Take the time to look closely at the matters around you.

As well as looking at the little things, there is something in your life at the moment which requires further investigation. When Echidna is threatened they did deep into the ground. It’s time to dig a little deeper. This might be through research, conversation, chasing up leads or simply meditating or spending time ruminating on an issue until ‘it’ comes to you. Echidna energy is valuable for helping us to scrutinise ideas that – up until now have not been fully formed.

Echidna gives you the tools and power to not only look beneath the surface but tunnel deeply into your problems and thoughts and find nourishment from what you find there.

Echidna comes into our lives to show us what an asset being stubborn can be! Dig your claws in, brace your spines against your threshold, and protect yourself, your family, your ideas and your creations. When you let echidna teach you nourishing stubbornness, you also access stability. Echidna teaches you to remain grounded at all times, even when you are sailing through the lands of your creative imagination, coming up with new ideas and plans to make your life happier and healthier.

Don’t Be Like Me

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week six and the creative force has produced the Echidna to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat have been initiating.

Echidna has come urging me NOT to be like him. He raises his spikes when someone gets too close and I have been guilty, not only of keeping people at arm’s length but of raising my spikes when faced with criticism. I have a well-established armoury to defend myself! Echidna says ‘get back or I will spike you’; ‘get out of my space’! He is so encased in his comfort zone that he won’t let anyone in. When we don’t walk outside those self-imposed boundaries we don’t grow.

Rather than rolling into a tight ball when the critic tells me that what I am doing is self-indulgent I am checking out how it feels to be self-indulgent and self-compassionate! I am also opening the barrier to my property a little! I posted on FB suggesting that cooks or families might like some fresh fruit from my trees! Some lovely people have responded, each offering other fruit in return. Given what the price of figs has been it will be a treat to receive some freshly grown ones.

As I engage in Still-hunting, suddenly this area seems even more interesting, almost indulgent! Yesterday I found my way to a historic cemetery and sat under large oak trees contemplating Mt Franklin, which lay within the frame of my view. A brown rabbit ran by but I chose not to try to follow it. Instead, because Echidna has been urging me to step well outside the boundaries I have unconsciously set for myself, I indulged in quiet time in the shade and contemplated going inside one of these trees. I made a note, in the small travel journal that had lain unused, of other places I might explore.

Read about Zen and the Art of Team Blogging, a testimony to what can be achieved when we break down the barriers and work collaboratively.

 

Piggiebillah the Echidna

Echidna by Ravenari-Wildspeak

Piggiebillah the Echidna was once a man. When he grew old, so old that all his friends had died, he lived with men who had been boys when he was middle-aged. They were all strong and tireless, and able to hunt all through the hot sunny hours of the day, and to travel long distances in search of food, but Piggiebillah was too old to take his part in providing food for the tribe.

No-one gave him anything to eat, and it was surprising that he remained so well. As he grew older he seemed better nourished than anyone else. In fact it was so very surprising that some of the people became suspicious and kept a close watch on him. After some time they discovered something that Piggiebillah had kept a secret to himself for years.

When he left the camp one morning, he was followed, and it was seen that he went to a rock at some distance from the encampment, and hid in its shadow. The watchers peered at him from behind bushes, wondering what he was waiting for. They soon found out. A young woman came along the path. Piggiebillah sprang out, and before anyone could move or give a shout of warning, he plunged his spear into her body. The old man dragged her off the track, ate her limbs, and hid the rest of her body away for a later meal.

The disappearance of many people of their tribe, and of visitors who were expected and never arrived, was at last explained. A secret meeting was held and it was unanimously decided that Piggiebillah must be killed. He was so active, in spite of his great age, that he had to be taken unawares.

They waited until there was a dark night without a moon. The old man was lying at some distance away from the fire. The men gathered silently round him. He was sleeping on his back with his mouth shut to prevent his spirit from wandering. He moved in his sleep and murmured, ‘I hear the butterflies stamping in the grass.’

While he dreamed of butterflies the men drove their spears into his body. Piggiebillah groaned as they beat him with their clubs. Bone after bone in his body and arms and legs was broken, and at last the terrible cannibal lay still.

His wife was looking on in horror. She hit her head with her digging stick until the blood ran over her breast. Her name was Guineeboo, and when she fled from the scene she became Guineeboo, the Red-breasted Robin.

The men crowded round the fire, laughing and chattering over their easy victory. But Piggiebillah was not dead. He dragged himself painfully into the deeper shadows until he came to the burrow of Trapdoor Spider, Murga Muggai. He fell down the hole, and stayed at the bottom until his wounds were healed.

The one thing he could not do was to pull the spears out of his body, nor did the bones in his broken limbs knit together. Nobody recognised Piggiebillah when he came out into the daylight again. He crawled on all fours, with his broken legs splayed out, and the spears were a bristling forest on his back. For food he dug with his hands, and had to be satisfied with ants and other insects, and scraps of food.

Piggiebillah had turned into an Echidna, the little animal that scratches for ants because he cannot eat other food, and burrows underground to escape from his enemies.

A.W. Reed, Aboriginal Fables & Legendary Tales (Aboriginal Library)

Dog Rocks – Still-observing

 

Today I was called upon to drive up to Dog Rocks on nearby Mount Alexander to still-observe. The call was quite insistent! I considered finding a space closer to home but the voice calling me would not be silenced.

Dog Rocks are near the peak of Mt Alexander. They comprise of huge, picturesque granite outcrops. Over the years, they’ve become a favourite stopover landmark for bushwalkers and a popular spot for climbers and artists. Rock climbers were working the main area so I clambered into a quieter space, hoping that a ‘significant’ creature would make its presence felt. However, only the Australian Blowflies buzzed noisily around me as I examined a vulva like a passageway leading through an outcrop.

I quickly decided that blowflies are far from insignificant. They do make their presence felt! Blowflies have been deemed to be vehicles of death, decay and destruction; envoys of evil, sin and pestilence by the Christians. However, some African tribes celebrate a Fly-god, with the fly revered as an embodiment of the soul. As such flies are never killed.

I have been guilty of being homicidal with blowflies but I was rehabilitated after vomiting repeatedly when cleaning up a mass of dead flies seven years ago. Now I quietly encourage them to leave the premises; refrain from having toxic sprays in the house.

As I contemplated the blowflies I thought of the small house fly who has quite literally been the ‘fly on the wall’over recent days! This small creature has been persistently invading my space, eavesdropping, circling around my fingers as I type, soaking up knowledge, urging me to develop my senses and become more observant.

Let’s face it! It is almost impossible to dissuade flies from persistently swarming about us when we are outdoors. The presence of flies affirms the quick and abrupt changes in my thoughts, emotions and endeavours. Rapid changes in all aspects of my life are currently taking place and the ever-persistent fly is reminding me not to give up. It is persistence which will enable me to reach goals and bear fruit sooner than later.

Even if it means annoying others or being selfish for a while I do have the ability to accomplish my goals. My current goals are to trust the process and complete the final year of my Masters of Social Work; spend 52 weeks learning from Australian birds and animals. Still hunting is a part of the 52 week process! I am carefully recording my observations.

As I sat at Dog Rocks I noted the call of the Kookaburra and the footfall of rock climbers clambering to find places to test their skills. But it was the brown butterflies who danced around me and who led me to find a small magic circle, formed by ancient granite.

Butterfly seemed to be asking me to go on with the clearance I have been facing, embrace changes in my environment and to work with my emotional body. The energy supporting a physical transformation of energy was all about me. It is time to release any expectations and simply allow change to flow through and around me.

Perch Advantageously

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week five and the creative force has produced the Pelican to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

The elegant pelican animal totem is definitely an opportunist with style and finesse. In the wild, these large-billed birds perch themselves in the most advantageous position before swooping in to catch their prey. They wait patiently and focus intently, striking at the most perfect moment.

Pelican spirit guides float into our awareness to encourage us to do the same. In order to experience the benefits of opportunities, we must be proactive. We cannot just sit idly and wait for things to come our way all of the time. Each of us needs to get out there and place ourselves in circumstances that will yield benefits. Put yourself in a position that will enable you to utilize skills and resources.

In addition to resourcefulness, the pelican spiritual totem commonly symbolizes social responsibility and active attributes, such as social, teamwork, charity, generosity and friendliness. This is because these birds are highly social and reliant upon their groups. Hunting is a group effort, in which many members of the flock work together to gain abundance. Pelicans encourage us to develop friendly, caring, and supportive relationships with members of our own communities, as well.

Are you intent upon a goal, or some treasure you desire? Do like the pelican does. Perch yourself in an advantageous position, and observe the resources that come your way.

Remaining Buoyant

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week five and the creative force has produced the Pelican to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

Despite their size pelicans are light and buoyant. They can float like a schooner. A pelican in flight can quite suddenly plummet into the water and then pop up to the surface. Its system of air sacs under the skin makes it unsinkable.

Symbolically this hints at the benefits of buoyancy during tough times. The pelican is teaching that no matter how difficult the creative process may be, no matter how much we may plunge when we are knocked back or our critic’s voice is loud, we can pop back up to the surface.  The Pelican holds the knowledge of how to rise above criticism.

Pelicans, in spite of their lightness, sometimes have a difficult time taking off from the water. Still, they do manage, and again we can see the correspondence to freeing oneself from that which would weigh us down.

The water is a symbol of emotions that may weigh us down. The pelican teaches how not to be overcome by them.

Here are some facts about density and its effect on buoyancy! How can we apply this principle to the creative process? How do you stop your spirits from sinking under the weight of self-doubt and criticism from that inner voice that is quick to pass judgement?

Moola the Pelican

‘As a young boy, I used to sit and watch pelicans for hours. The big graceful birds would sweep down to land on the lagoons near my tribe’s cam, then paddle along, dipping their large bills into the water looking for fish. Pelicans lay sometimes two, sometimes four eggs, and when the little pelicans hatch they leave their nests and spend their time playing and learning with other baby pelicans in a kind of kindergarten. One or two adults look after lots of babies while most of the adults are out looking for food. In a lot of ways they are the Aboriginals, sharing their campsites, and the raising of their young.’
source: Jane Resture Oceania

Long ago, in the Dreamtime, there lived a pelican called Moola. In the Dreamtime, pelicans were completely black, and Moola was the blackest and fiercest of them all. he was proud of the way he looked, and each day he would spend hours and hours arranging his feathers, preening and prancing, and grooming himself with his large bill.

When he was quite happy with his appearance, Moola would climb into his bark canoe and paddle around showing off to all the other birds. Moola was very proud of his canoe because he was the only pelican who had one. The other birds would look at Moola and say,

‘Look at Moola, so proud in his canoe.’
‘I wish I had a canoe like Moola’s.’

But Moola was very selfish, he would never let other pelicans ride in his canoe. When they asked, Moola would say,

‘You might fall out, canoes are difficult to paddle.’

Moola knew he looked important, sitting in his canoe, and he didn’t want the other pelicans to look important too. One day there came a huge storm. The rain poured down, soaking all the animals. The old Wombat shivered in his hole, the Kangaroos sheltered under the trees, and still, it rained. It rained so much that the rivers filled and flowed out over the land. The old wombat knew that he would have to leave his cosy hole. As he scrambled out he saw the Kangaroos hopping off towards higher ground. But Moola was delighted. All this water meant that he could paddle his canoe to places he had never been before. It also meant that he could show off to lots of animals who had never seen him before. Big, black, proud Moola, the only pelican with a canoe. As he paddled off, he sang,

‘Munmuckinny, munmuckinny, munmuckinny, munmuckinny.’

He hadn’t rowed very far when he came across a group of Aboriginals stranded on a tiny island. Moola could see that the rising water would soon cover the tiny island. As he came nearer he could see that there were four people, two old women, an old man and a beautiful young girl.

‘Help, please help us. If you don’t save us we will surely drown.’

The young girl, whose name was Mungi, pleaded with Moola,

‘Please save us. You have a canoe and you could take us one at a time.’

Moola stared at her, she was very pretty and young. And, he, Moola the proudest and blackest of all the pelicans didn’t have a woman. Mungi felt uneasy. Why was the big, black bird staring at her like that? She huddled closer to the old woman. They were all very wet, and very frightened. Moola stared at her. If he could get the three old people off the island, then he could come back and take the young girl for himself.

‘I will help you. don’t worry. I can save you with my canoe. I will take you one at a time, and I will take the oldest first.’

Moola collected the older woman and paddled her across the river to where the land was high. He helped her out of the canoe and went back again. He collected the other old woman and returned for the old man. Mungi and the old man sat huddled together on the island. Mungi was frightened. Each time Moola came to the island he stared at her and waved his big yellow bill in the air. When the old man and Moola had gone, Mungi was left sitting all alone. She thought. She was young and very pretty, everyone told her so. Was that why Moola stared at her? She began to cry. Through the rain, she could just see the big, black bird paddling the old man towards the distant shore. she sobbed,

‘At least the old people are saved, but I don’t trust Moola. I am frightened he will steal me to be his woman.’

Moola reached the far bank. She watched the old man climb out of the canoe. Then Moola turned to come back for Mungi. She watched as he paddled towards her. Mungi knew she must escape, if she tried to swim then Moola would only come after her. She must trick him so that she could escape. She had an idea. ‘She quickly slipped the kangaroo-skin rug from around her shoulders, and she wrapped it around a log. Mungi slipped into the water and began to swim to the opposite bank. Moola paddled up to the tiny island. He couldn’t see Mungi. Where was she? He jumped out of his canoe. Mungi was nowhere to be seen. Then Moola saw the kangaroo-skin rug.

‘That Mungi, asleep, when I Moola the most
handsome of all pelicans have come to save her.’

He rushed up to the log and gave it an almighty kick. Pain soared up his leg. He leapt into the air. He had been tricked. Mungi was gone. Moola limped back to his canoe. No one had ever tricked him before. ‘the more he thought of Mungi, the angrier he became.

‘I’ll go back to my camp. I’ll get my spears and I’ll
hunt that Mungi.’

The other pelicans saw Moola coming. He looked quite funny, paddling along with one big, swollen foot dangling out of his canoe. They began to laugh.

‘Look at Moola.’
‘Moola doesn’t look so important now.’
‘Moola, Moola, Bigfoot.’

Their teasing only made Moola angrier. He went to his camp and splashed white war-paint over his body. The white paint made him look very fierce. Moola roared in anger, gathered his spears and started back to his canoe. The older pelicans saw him, all covered in white war-paint. They had never seen anything like it. Pelicans, they said, should not look like this; pelicans were black. They decided to teach Moola a lesson. Flapping their wings, they rushed at him. Wheeling around him, they pecked and flapped, their huge bills plunging into Moola’s black and white feathers. When the old pelicans had finished, they told Moola that he must leave and never return. He was to be banished forever. Although the young pelicans watched in horror as Moola stumbled away, they thought he looked very fierce and proud.

‘If we painted ourselves, then we could look
fierce and proud like Moola.’

So they all rushed off to paint themselves like Moola. Soon all the young pelicans in the cam had covered their black feathers with fierce blotches of white paint. The old pelicans looked amazed. Pelicans should be black. But the young pelicans didn’t listen. They went parading around, admiring their new black and white plumage.

‘We look so fierce.’
We look so proud.’
‘We all look as fierce and as proud as Moola.’

And they have stayed that way ever since. And that is why, today, if you see pelicans on a lagoon or Billabong, you will see that they are black with white patches, just as Moola was, long ago in the Dreamtime.

source: Jane Resture Oceania

Exchange Freely

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week four and the creative force has produced the Possum to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

The Djargurd Wurrong possum skin cloak was worn by Gunditjmara Elder Ivan Couzens at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The cloak was made by Vicki Couzens and Yarran, Jarrah, Marlee, Niyoka and Kirrae Bundle. Gunditjmara, Western District of Victoria. River people.

A dreaming story tells of a confrontation between the Rock Wallaby Men from Port Agusta and the northern Possum Men. The Possum Men were conducting important ceremonies when the Rock Wallabies burst in and a fight broke out. Eventually, the two sides called an end to the fighting and agreed to exchange the important ceremonial knowledge. They established a big corroboree camp and the country surrounding was known as good possum country before the arrival of the white settlers. In fact, Aboriginal law completely protects some of these sites from hunting, even during drought, in order to ensure the survival of their food species. Unfortunately, possums have almost completely disappeared from this region although they are still very important in the dreaming songs and rituals performed today.
Source

Possum has come to remind us that no one can own the stars; that the creative force is responsive when we share and take active steps to protect the source of creativity.

The Djargurd Wurrong possum skin cloak, worn by Gunditjmara Elder Ivan Couzens at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, is an example of what happens when artistic people work collaboratively, rather than keeping their important ceremonial knowledge to themselves. Elder, Ivan Couzens, and others talk about how the cloak helps Aboriginals understand who they are.

Exploring the photographs of possum skin cloaks that were made to wear at the Commonwealth games, and reading the shared stories may inspire us to find a way to express who we are. There are invaluable templates provided which will help us name aspects of ourselves.

Make sure to freely exchange the process you find works as you do this.

 

 

Building Upon Ancestral Foundations

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week four and the creative force has produced the Possum to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

The tradition of using possum skins for the making of cloaks, waistbands, belts, armbands and headbands was practised by Aboriginal people across eastern Australia.

One of the earliest documented accounts of a possum skin cloak is from Governor Macquarie. In his journal on 10 May 1815 (Bathurst), he recounts that three Wiradjuri warriors, led by Windradyne, visited him and gifts were exchanged. Macquarie gave Windradyne a tomahawk and a piece of yellow cloth; in return, he received a possum skin cloak.

One example of cloak-making from this region is held in the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, DC, USA). Known as the Hunter River Cloak, it was collected during an expedition in the mid 1800s by American explorer Charles Wilkes. It features four rows of six rectangular pelts sewn on the back, edge to edge, with very fine overhand stitching of corded sinew. The fur has been left on and the skin side is completely covered with large diamond-shaped designs made by scraping up a thin layer of the skin so that it stands up in a little curl.3

Traditionally, cloaks were used for ceremonial purposes: in dance, drumming, initiation rites and also in daily life. They were primarily worn as a means of protection from winter conditions, but also used as a shelter from heat and wet weather and to carry babies and small children.

A local example of how valuable the cloaks were in trade is suggested by stories of the Darkinjung nation trading them with inland tribes in exchange for spears and woomeras. In the Dandenong region of Victoria, the trade value of a cloak was said to be worth a greenstone axe. They were also given as peace and marriage offerings.

Possum skin cloaks were created for individuals when they were born and were added to throughout their lives. The intricate designs and ochre decorations were either made by the individual or by others, depending on the design and the purpose for which they were being added.

This practice reminded of a gift that I was given when I visited the  Isle of Ancestors. The Isle of Ancestors is a part of the Lemurian Archipelego, a fantasy world that I created during the hey days of the Soul Food Cafe. It is well worth a visit! Travellers have left rich stories of their meeting with their ancestors at this revered island.

At a point when I was feeling quite low I hitched a ride with the Ferrywoman and visited the sanctuary on the Isle of Ancestors. It was a moving experience as I met all my grandmothers. Before insisting that I return to the world I had come from, they gave me was a cloak filled with raven feathers to wear and provide comfort whenever I felt low.

This cloak held the life stories of the ancestors who walked before me and upon whose shoulders I now stand.

In her iconic book ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks extensively about the importance of Soulskins. In her chapter, Homing: Returning to Oneself she talks about how women who have lost their pelt, lose their protections, their warmth, their early warning system and most devastatingly, their instinctual sight.

Possum urges us to see our life as being built upon the foundation of our ancestors; to wrap ourselves within a cloak and find anchorage with our ancestors.

There are many ways that we can honour our ancestors and to actively remember them.

Possum urges the creative to take the time to use some of the ways suggested in the linked articles or to make a metaphorical coat to record the journey. Actively taking tangible steps to honour our ancestors provides a foundation upon which great things can be initiated.

Personally, I found that I viewed my potential differently when I pulled the cloak I had been given out of the cupboard and celebrated wearing it on a daily basis.

The Advantages of Playing Dead

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week four and the creative force has produced the Possum to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

This morning when I was out with the dogs, Archie alerted us to the fact that there was a possum tucked in the branches of one of the shade trees. It took us a moment to spy the frightened, frozen creature whose bright eyes seemed to be looking far far away. Given the fact that we were anticipating that temperatures would rise to 42c our primary concern was that this creature and its access to water. I have been filling vessels for the bird life at my house but with no tap in sight, there was little we could do.

Possum medicine uses a great deal of strategy. Possums are well-known for one of their tricks. These small animals are amongst a group of animals who have the capacity to play dead when predators are near. This way they trick other, larger animals, that they are dead and then attack them or avoid them after they give up on the hunt. This trick helps possums to survive in often dangerous habitats.

Despite idleness being dammed as slothfulness, as one of the seven deadly sins, inactivity plays a perfect role in human life! When we are idle we are actually keeping up a valuable tradition. There are many advantages to inaction! For a start, immobility conserves energy. A half an hour siesta can ward off coronary disease. Plato tells us that Socrates stood still for nearly 24 hours while ruminating on some particularly intractable problems.

Most people would recoil at the idea of doing this but they would be wise to learn from a possum. Sometimes we need to go into a torpor and not think about anything much. Sometimes we need to rest our brains and replenish, in readiness to receive messages from the creator and enjoy another creative spurt.

 

Go Coddiwompling

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week three and the creative force has produced the Musk Lorikeet to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

Musk Lorikeets are endemic to (only found in) south-eastern Australia, being widespread in eastern New South Wales, all regions of Victoria and in the south-east of South Australia. They are found in tall, open, dry forest and woodlands, dominated by eucalypts and are usually found in the canopy. They are also seen in suburban areas, parks and street trees. They roost or loaf in tall trees away from their feeding sites.

Musk Lorikeets are considered nomadic, following the flowering or fruiting of food trees and they travel widely for food. One might say that the Musk Lorikeet likes to coddiwomple! To Coddiwomple is to travel with no fixed destination. Coddiwomple is just one of at least six words that habitual travellers need.

In 2001 my late husband and I travelled for six months throughout the United Kingdom, Western Europe and Scandinavia with no fixed destination and no forward bookings. Our theory was that if we did not have a destination or a specific address to find we could not get lost. It was an amazing journey and we never slept in the car we had hired. We always found a bed for the night. We didn’t realise it at the time but we were Coddiwompling! To Coddiwomple is To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. The Coddiwomple family are constantly travelling with no fixed destination. After he died and I sold the family home I had no real destination in mind. I let fate guide me to my current home in Central Victoria.

Believe it or not, you do not have to leave home to coddiwomple. Travellers who joined me in Lemuria had no fixed purpose and no fixed destination. They were virtual travellers who slipped through the portal and let the Enchantress decide where the next adventure lay!

They wandered about in Gypsy Caravans, stopping occasionally at mysterious places like the Well of Remembrance, the Lemurian Abbey, the Isle of Ancestors, Owl Island, the House of the Serpents and Riversleigh Manor. Jo Chapman is a virtual Coddiwompler! She has an imaginary boyfriend who she travels with and they have been to some exotic places.

These days my main coddiwompling is with my little Mazda 3, Akari! She and I love to go out on mystery tours! I let her randomly decide where we are going. Yesterday I went coddiwompling out into the natural habitat of some of the wildlife that also makes its way into my backyard.

 

Exploring the Expressive Arts

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week three and the creative force has produced the Musk Lorikeet to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

Lorikeets are full of silliness and humour, and they are also inquisitive about their surroundings. These comical birds remind the writer and artist to be expressive and bring colour, humour and light into their work. Lorikeet has drawn me to examine Expressive Arts. Expressive Arts and Art Therapy are creative therapies. The concept of expressive art resonates for me because it honours the process, rather than the final product.

With the arrival of Lorikett I decided that this 52-week project is an expressive art project. I am unashamedly doing this for myself. Committing to 52 weeks is huge and it represents a major shift for me to be genuinely creating FOR MYSELF and FOR THE CREATIVE SPIRIT. I do not actually care if many people engage or follow what I am doing! I am interested in observing and researching the process of being responsive to and feeding the creative spirit.

The web is full of expressive art material. It is a huge field! I was particularly impressed to find the work of Shelley Klammer. On her site, she has an updated list of a popular internet list of art therapy activities which were originally posted by the Nursing School Blog

Lorikeet has suggested that I reprint the section on relaxation, along with a link to Klammer.

Relaxation

Art therapy can be a great way to relax. Consider these exercises if you’re looking to feel a little more laid back.

  1. Paint to music. Letting your creativity flow in response to music is a great way to let out feelings and just relax.
  2. Make a scribble drawing. With this activity, you’ll turn a simple scribble into something beautiful, using line, color and your creativity.
  3. Finger paint. Finger painting isn’t just fun for kids– adults can enjoy it as well. Get your hands messy and really have fun spreading paint around.
  4. Make a mandala. Whether you use the traditional sand or draw one on your own, this meditative symbol can easily help you to loosen up.
  5. Draw with your eyes closed. Not being able to see what you are drawing intensifies fluidity, intuition, touch and sensitivity.
  6. Draw something HUGE. Getting your body involved and moving around can help release emotion as you’re drawing.
  7. Use color blocks. Colors often come with a lot of emotions attached. Choose several paint chips to work with and collage, paint and glue until you’ve created a colorful masterpiece.
  8. Let yourself be free. Don’t allow yourself to judge your work. If you think your paintings are too tight and controlled, this collection of tips and techniques to try should help you work in a looser style.
  9. Only use colors that calm you. Create a drawing or a painting using only colors that you find calming.
  10. Draw in sand. Like a Zen garden, this activity will have you drawing shapes and scenes in the sand, which can be immensely relaxing and a great way to clear your mind.
  11. Make a zentangle. These fun little drawings are a great tool for letting go and helping reduce stress.
  12. Color in a design. Sometimes, the simple act of coloring can be a great way to relax. Find a coloring book or use this mandala for coloring.
  13. Draw outside. Working en plein air can be a fun way to relax and get in touch with nature while you’re working on art.

Perhaps I will get back to drawing a donkey and a raven a day!

Magical Healing Voices

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week two and the creative force has produced the Common Blackbird to build on the lessons that the Superb Blue Wren initiated.  

The Welsh Goddess Rhiannon (Great Queen) was accompanied by magical birds whose enchanted songs could ” awaken the dead and lull the living to sleep”. Tadhg, son of Cian, meets the Divine Cliodna, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her three magical birds heal the sick and wounded with their sweet songs. Rhiannon’s birds charmed the company of Bran into losing track of time, in the Welsh legend The Maginogi. Often three birds appear together in Celtic symbolism, an association with the Triple Goddess. Birds often symbolize the flight of the spirits to the otherworld. They possessed supernatural powers, and throughout Celtic mythology, divine entities frequently shape-shift between human and bird form.

Illustration by Anna-Marie Ferguson
showing Rhiannon,
the Celtic Goddess of Birds and Horses,
who may be associated with the Roman
Goddess Epona. Source

Rhiannon is a Welsh Horse Goddess, her name means White Witch or Great Queen.   She is an inspiring figure to invoke for Poets, Artists, and Singers.    She possesses deep magic and can manifest her dreams and desires for the good of all.  She is a good witch, a Healer.  She travels on a powerful white horse with her mysterious birds that possess healing powers.   These birds are magical, for they are the birds of Sweetest Song and she is their mistress.  Rhiannon’s birds appear in various Celtic symbols in Celtic Art.

Rhíannon is a goddess, the princess submerged in cultural darkness who lies like a shadowy creature in the realms of our dreams waiting to come to life with vigour and passion again.

Rhíannon was as patient as she was beautiful.  She was also extremely courageous.   Rhíannon possessed magnificent singing birds which healed with the magical quality of their voices.

Blackbirds are the bird of both the gateway and the forge. Blackbird calls to us from the gateway between two worlds, urging us to follow a spiritual path or to become more self-aware. he calls to us in the twilight, showing us the path to Otherworldly secrets, pointing out the ways in which we can discover more about our hidden motivations and potential. There are times in life when it is important to concentrate on the outer world and your responsibilities in that world, but there are also times when you must attend to the haunting song of your soul which calls you to a study of spiritual truths, and to an exploration of the inner world through dreams and myths. In heeding Blackbird’s song, you will discover healing and new depths in your soul.

Stop to listen and meditate upon the song of the Common Blackbird! Allow the Common Blackbird to do her magic!

Now let Three Birds of Rhiannon songwriter, Stevie Nicks soothe your creative spirit! Play it again and again! Take words and phrases, write them down, work with the words you glean and see what emerges from the inner world.

Freeing the Caged Bird

Caged Bird By Maya Angelou was first published in her book, “Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?” in 1983. The poem is a Metaphor illustrating the differences between African-Americans and Whites during the civil rights era. The author, a black who grew up in the South during this era, is expressing her feelings at the discrimination she faced during her life. Her first autobiography published in 1970 is titled, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Flying Free by Heather Blakey 2004

Angelou’s poem, Caged Bird, speaks to many who have known what it is to be caged, to have their wings clipped and struggle to leave the cage even when the door is opened. Over the years I have found that many creative people have had their wings clipped by the inner critic.

The inner critic or “critical inner voice” is a concept used in popular psychology and psychotherapy to refer to a subpersonality that judges and demeans a person. The inner critic is usually experienced as an inner voice attacking a person, saying that he or she is bad, wrong, inadequate, worthless, guilty, and so on. It feeds on the words of some teachers, parents and other societal influences.

When I slipped through the portal into the imaginary world of Lemuria I found a world where I could become a bird and float on the back of the Lemurian breezes, dip my golden wings and claim the sky as mine. It was a glorious sense of freedom! More recently I have collected old bird cages and leave them, with doors wide open, scattered throughout the garden.

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings-by-maya-angelou

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