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.

Time to apply some mettle

Emu is a powerful teacher and guide. It promotes spiritual excellence and achievement by encouraging diligence, hard work, respect and humility in the lives of those it visits. Emu demands the great application of time, energy and love to all spiritual pursuits and can guide those who seek knowledge down paths of wisdom.

Emu is an excellent guide for those interested in shamanic pursuits and techniques. It is one of a few animal guides that is very powerful for shamanists, or those who simply strive for brilliance in all that they do. Emu guide can be quite stern and is a custodian of societal law. When emu appears in your life, it is time to apply some mettle and hard work to your situation. Emu doesn’t permit laziness, and emu energy is not very relaxing or soothing.

The energy of emu tends to come about at a time when rapid movement can be nourishing. Many animals teach us to slow down and take our time, but emu comes into our lives to say ‘speed up, work hard.’ Rapid movement can also be applied physically, through exercises like jogging and physically demanding cardiovascular movement. It can be applied spiritually, by drastically increasing how often your journey, make offerings or rituals, pray etc. Look at what you are doing to serve yourself, your spirituality, or others, and multiply it.

On a personal level, I sense, as I work with children at Winters Flat Primary School, that it is time to apply some mettle and grow a fresh very wild garden.

Making space for intuition

You only need to be silent and look into the eyes of the frogmouth owl to know that this wise creature is reminding you that great wisdom comes from within silence.

Artists talk about the negative space. Negative space is, quite simply, the space that surrounds an object in an image. Just as important as that object itself, negative space helps to define the boundaries of positive space and brings balance to a composition. As I have worked with primary school students they have come to truly understand what can be drawn from the negative space that silence creates.

Spirit echoes through the silence, sending us messages. It is important to follow the visions that rise up from the time spent in silence.

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!

Hear the song of your soul

To hear the song of your soul

The whale is renowned for its soul songs, songs that enrich and nurture the soul. Carl Sagan taught that one of the truly magical things about whales was the importance of their songs. Whales, quite literally, have a catalogue of songs that they remember and sing. Apparently, they have a different song for each month of the year. They will also have a special song that they sing in a certain location, leave, come back and pick up the song again. These soul songs travel far and wide throughout the oceans.

Since I have been on placement at Winters Flat primary I have remembered the song of my soul. I am back in the classroom as a specialist teacher of writing working with children of all ages and plan to feature the activities and responses of students, parents and teachers in a special Advent Calendar at the end of this year.

Here are some words that are associated with the whale. Think of them as fridge leftovers and make something out of them. Sing a song, be it a ballad, some hip hop, a hymn or a rhapsody and share it today.

  • Abundance
  • Awakening
  • Awareness
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Communication
  • Community
  • Consciousness
  • Conversation
  • Creation
  • Creativity
  • Devotion
  • Emotion
  • Experience
  • Family
  • Imagination
  • Inspiration
  • Knowledge
  • Language
  • Movement
  • Navigation
  • Nurturance
  • Psychic
  • Rebirth
  • Record Keeper
  • Rhythm
  • Song
  • Speed
  • Strength
  • Telepathy
  • Understanding

Raven’s Magical Thinking

Hold still and be yourself! Be borne up upon the wings of power. Taste the frontier! Wander along the boundary fence and feel its special power.

When you meet Raven, he could be telling you that there will be changes in your life and that possibly you should step by the usual way you view reality and look into the inner realms …walk your talk…be prepared to let go of your old thinking and embrace a new way of viewing yourself and the world.

Given that I have just let go of Soul Food it is no accident that my totem bird, the Raven, has appeared to remind me to embrace a new way of identifying myself. Raven’s appearance is reassuring! He uses his adaptability to magically be present when least expected.

The Act of Letting Go

A couple of weeks ago Lizard entered my life, reminding me of being able to let go! This week, when I was quoted over $5000 to keep Soul Food online for another five years I was challenged! After personally sponsoring this site for over eighteen years, letting go of Soul Food felt like letting go of a part of myself.

When under threat the Lizard will let go of its tail as a defence mechanism thereby ensuring his survival. Choosing to let go of Soul Food quite clearly is not a question of surviving. However, this aside, Lizard is calling upon me to demonstrate that I have the ability to let go.

As it happens, although the site will not be as accessible to the visitors who have benefited from it, Soul Food gets to live on as a part of internet history. It can live, in its entirety, in the Wayback Machine, waiting for internet archaeologists to dig and explore. The work of this web archive is amazing! I am grateful that they are the caretakers now! I will be donating to them https://archive.org/donate/. You will find links, that take you into the Wayback Machine, to favourite Soul Food features, such as the Advent Calendars, ABC of Alchemy and Chocolate Box on the sidebar of this site

Somehow it is very appropriate that Soul Food now lives ‘way back’, representing a part of who I was. Especially as I approach the finishing line, ready to graduate after four years of study, it is time to carve a new niche for myself and find new directions.

Tips for Letting Go

Mind Body Green

Turn to Gratitude for the Present

 

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.

Drawn by the Light

Potoroos belong to a small family called the Potoroidae (rat-kangaroos), within the large superfamily Macropodoidea. The rat-kangaroos are small marsupials which hop on their hind feet, dig for much of their food with well-developed forefeet, and have a complex stomach that allows them to extract nutrition very efficiently from their diet. The Potoroidae contains several small genera, including Bettongia, (the bettongs, such as the burrowing bettong and the brush-tailed bettong) and Potorous, containing the potoroos.

The Potoroo has a habit of spending their time in damp pockets of forests, hiding from the eyes of humanity. They nest during the day and at times during the night in bowl-shaped depressions beneath the spreading sedges, generally well hidden beneath the shrub canopy. They come out to feed, at night when most humans have gone to bed. After an extended period of accumulated losses I abandoned much that I did and, while I have not exactly been hiding from humanity, I have kept a low profile.

Life is a discovery of self and, as I complete the last subject of a Masters of Social Work  I have been gifted with fresh insight. I have been affirmed! I have been shown the benefit of the skills I acquired along the way and I can see that it is time to resurface! As I tentatively resurface I am welcoming the fresh insight that comes when you emerge from the darkness into the light and when you can what you have been blind to.

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.

 

Never too small to make a difference

If you think you are too small or ordinary to make a difference you have not been in a closed room with a mosquito (African proverb) or a persistent housefly. 

Make the most out of every moment

One housefly has taken up residence and has been persistently hovering, determined to attract my attention. I decided I really should take the time to listen to this determined, tiny creature. The housefly (Musca domestica) is a fly of the suborder Cyclorrhapha. It is believed to have evolved in the Cenozoic era, possibly in the Middle East, and has spread all over the world as a commensal of humans. It is the most common fly species found in houses. Adults are grey to black, with four dark, longitudinal lines on the thorax, slightly hairy bodies, and a single pair of membranous wings. They have red eyes, set farther apart in the slightly larger female.

The Fly teaches the ability to greatly multiply prosperity, endeavours and ventures at enormous rates. He shows how to be quick to act and respond to achieve results. Fly aids in demonstrating the power of keen eyesight along with expanding awareness in many directions. The fly also makes use of and gains nourishment from things that others see as “dung”. This can point to being able to use that which others pass by and seeing opportunities where others see only a need to clean up. Flies make the most of their environments…whatever it may be. Their short lifespan points to making the most out of every moment and having no time for regrets.

 

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.