Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Brolga, Contemplative Practice, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Romancing the Creative Spirit, Self Compassion, Wild Play

Romancing the Creative Spirit

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 eight and Brolga has danced into my life, on the arm of and the creative force, to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat have been initiating.

Brolga by Ravenari, Wildspeak.

When brolga energy has come into your life, it indicates that there is a focus on relationships – particularly romantic or more-than-platonic relationship. It might be time to court your partner again and remember romance or the joy of finding a person you love.

Alternatively, there is something quite intoxicating about being in true connection with the creative spirit.  When this happens, as it happened to me as I gifted my one true love, the creative spirit, with the Twelve Days of an Australian Christmas, it can feel like a passionate love affair that washes over you like a storm. It can feel like a Mystical Union that puts everything into perspective and fills one with a deep sense of peace.

When Saint Teresa of Avila wrote I Gave All My Heart she was writing about her relationship with God, her beloved one. When I meditate upon this work I acknowledge that I have given all of my heart to my one true love, the Creative Spirit.

I gave all my heart to the Lord of Love,
And my life is so completely transformed
That my Beloved One has become mine
And without a doubt, I am his at last.

When that tender hunter from paradise
Released his piercing arrow at me,
My wounded soul fell in his loving arms;
And my life is so completely transformed
That my Beloved One has become mine
And without a doubt, I am his at last.

He pierced my heart with his arrow of love
And made me one with the Lord who made me.
This is the only love I have to prove,
And my life is so completely transformed
That my Beloved One has become mine
And without a doubt, I am his at last.

For me, courting the creative spirit also involves making romantic gestures to self. This might involve buying a bouquet, a box of chocolates or king prawns for dinner ‘just because’ is a great way to establish a bond with self.

Brolga also teaches the value and wisdom of flirting. Sometimes flirting harmlessly with friends and meaningfully with partners allows us to re-experience what it is to have fun with others. In the French language class I am enrolled in I am enjoying playful banter, conversation and flirtatious behaviour. This is a way to experience fun within the friendship of this group.

Sometimes it’s time to just let loose and be joyful, instead of being serious all the time.

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Echidna, Expressive Arts, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Self Compassion, Wild Play

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.

 

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Contemplative Practice, Echidna, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

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)

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Akari Write Your Own Adventure, Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Dog Rocks Mount Alexander, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Interpreting Spaces, Just Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Rock Art, Stone People, Wild Play

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.

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Australian Pelican, Contemplative Practice, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience

Still-Observing

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.

After watching a Pelican, patiently perched on its nest at St Leonard’s, Victoria, on the Australia Day long weekend I have been encouraged to emulate this bird. Ted Andrews talks about Still-hunting in this classic book, Animal-Wise. 

“Still-hunting was practised in shaman traditions all over the world. Its primary purpose is to observe and learn. The still-hunter would go to a place he or she knew well or felt attracted to, whether a hillside, a meadow, a forest or a pond. There the individual would wait patiently until everything returned to normal. Then the still-hunter opens themselves to learn from the natural world.”

A google search reveals that this term is also used by actual hunters who treat the killing of animals as a sport! As a consequence, I will be using the term still-observing!

Perched on the nest my pelican, photographed here, appeared to be still-observing!

Become a still-observer!

Let the place choose you! It may be your own backyard!

Allow intuition to guide you to a place.

Upon arriving in the place become as unobtrusive to the environment as possible.

Remain very still and observe. Let the world go around you as if it were not there.

Feel and imagine yourself as a part of the environment and natural surroundings

Quietly observe the sounds! Pay attention to small detail.

Reference: Ted Andrews, Animal-Wise, page 28

Still-observing With Akari

Dog Rocks

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Australian Pelican, Back Yard Bird Life, Contemplative Practice, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Wild Play

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.

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Australian Pelican, Back Yard Bird Life, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

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?

Posted in Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Heather Blakey, Just Killing Time, Lemurian Adventures, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

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.

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Killing Time, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

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.

 

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Back Yard Bird Life, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Just Killing Time, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

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!

Posted in Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Contemplative Practice, Heather Blakey, Lemurian Adventures, Nature Fix, Resilience

Create Colourful Portraitures

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.

They talk with their beaks full of blossom
In a cascade of chatter as they sidle
Invisibly through the swaying treetops
They fly in a hurry as if all the gumnuts
Would disappear before they got to them
Geoffrey Dutton

Musk Lorikeets have been feeding on the fruit in my yard, hurling stone fruit onto the roof of the galvanised shed that the fruit tree spreads its branches over. The ground is covered with kernels, hastily discarded as the birds flit off looking for the next treat! These joyful creatures bring brightly coloured plumage and comic antics into my world.

The Rainbow Lorikeet and Musk Lorikeet have inspired rich poetic characterisations, with poets depicting them as gangs of unruly, chattering, aerodynamic, comical bandits. Geoffrey Dutton and Mark O’Connor are just two Australian poets who personify the spirit of these free-ranging, social creatures.

Lorikeets are full of silliness and humour, and they are also inquisitive about their surroundings. They remind the writer and artist to bring colour, humour and light into their work.

Manuel Payno is a writer whose work brought as much joy as a flock of lorikeets. In the translator’s preface, Alan Fluckey describes the small riot that erupted when a ship, carrying copies of  The Bandits from Rio Frio in its cargo, arrived in Mexico. Boxes were hastily opened and copies were sold within minutes as people greedily hustled to get their own personal copy. Book in hand Mexicans sat about in the open air reading to their neighbours! Rainbow chatter filled the air!

Lorikeet and Payno come whirling into my world, reminding me to remind everyone to be exuberant and add colour to their writing; to write and paint about colourful places and colourful characters! Examine the work of Payno closely! Combine this with a copy of The Donkey Inside by Ludwig Bemelmans! Your work will be enriched!

Rainbow Lorikeets
by Mark O’Connor

To feed head-down in an aerial smother of honey and pollen
reassured by a rainbow chatter of siblings
changing tree on impulse
in case python or man is stalking,
reckless till then . . .

A frantic pillaging crew,
crimson-patched pirates screeching in plunder-frenzy,
ignoring the silver-eyes nervously feeding
under those orange scimitars of beak.

The first dozen leave in a second, headlong, a rapid
scatter of downward notes; greedy last tilts his head
and is traumatised by a blank grey-green
widowed of reds and orange.

Before long they’ll circle back.

Shrieks of “Saps up”, “Feed here!”,
churrs of “All’s well, Honey flows”,
screech of “Hawk’s shadow! Watch out!”
mute to the mating thrum
Bill-and-Coo, Tickle-and-Tweek.

Their world is millions of honey-dripping pores.
Free as a child with a million breasts to suckle,
the world’s glands, daytime and night,
at work making sweets for them.

“Comic book bandidos”, but equally
rainbow-motley clowns; with their walk-claws
they tread-cling, wading and stumbling
up loose sprays of blossom
as a lily-trotter walks floating weeds.
They clutch-bunch and jostle on rafts of leaf
buoyed there by bough-spring, then flare out
over forests where the tenth tree in rotation
is an oasis of dripping pompoms.
Their brush-tongues delving and combing
bully honey from bottle-brush florets
or bite them off short,
munching sweet mash.

This desert of unfruiting trees,
deluding the settlers with woody semblances,
is their land of nectar and pollen-bread, antipodean
paradise, where raucous workers thrive.
A good tree gives gallons a day
— but modestly, from flowers as dull as grasses,
pale cream or off-white, blanched foliage.
Birds themselves must play petal;
their stridulous yellows and blues and orange and red
flag out each tree of delights, proclaim the loud shrines
of fermenting, honeyed, winey abundance.

It is said the birds came from dinosaurs.
Rainbow dinosaurs.

Some Colourful Characters Who Populated Lemuria
Heather Blakey 2004 – 10

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Heather Blakey, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Wild Play

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

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Back Yard Bird Life, Contemplative Practice, Heather Blakey, Wild Play

Sing from an Elevated Perch

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.  

Blackbirds are known for their melodious voice where they sing from high places such as; rooftops, trees and any other elevated perch. They enjoy standing alone singing and catching the attention of others. Today blackbird is asking us to recognize our creative talent. While this may not be singing, there is a talent that each of us should unhesitatingly express. Rather than hiding our Light under a bushel we need to be singing from the rooftops!

Blackbird inspired The Beatles who wrote a song about him:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Today Blackbird is reminding us of the need to celebrate our creative talent, build a firm foundation upon which to create and pay close attention to the details. Blackbird is reminding us to listen to the wisdom of Paul McCartney and Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise.

Blackbird is encouraging us to repair our broken wings, take the moment to arise and share our inspirational gifts with the world.

A participant in one of my writing courses told me that, I had to keep sharing my gift, that I would be selfish to keep the gift hidden under a bushel! Blackbird has encouraged me to arise, puff out my chest and sing, without inhibition, from an elevated space! I am a gifted purveyor of creative stimuli who has shared inspirational ways to promote creative endeavour. I do this by working on projects like this and by putting together an apothecary (a new form of the Soul Food Cafe) for those who wish to feed the creative spirit.

What will you share with the world?

Posted in Art and Healing, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Back Yard Bird Life, Contemplative Practice, Heather Blakey

Valuing One’s Unique Identity

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 one and the creative force has produced the Superb Blue Wren to provide some lessons!

“The Arrernte word Awelye, from Central Australia, describes the interrelationship of everything; plant, animal, earth and language. Aboriginal knowledge about plants, animals, non-living things, spirit, economy, aesthetics, kin, responsibility and journeying bind types of information with one another.

In other words, everything informs us about everything else and nothing can be considered in isolation. By contrast, non-indigenous knowledge structures involve hierarchical and increasing separation of information into ever smaller parts for detailed examination. Aboriginal knowledge stems from the practical experience of natural resources. Like all people that live with and close to the land, they have developed an understanding of the interrelationships between ecological functions and broader patterns in climate and geophysical features. Understanding and learning the signals of change is indicative of the depth of knowledge that Aboriginal people have achieved.

Totems are a significant symbol of Aboriginal people’s inextricable link to the land. Aboriginal people gave recognition to the power of the plant and animal spirits by wearing skins and masks of ceremonial paint, and by mimicking, singing praise and dedicating prayers to specific plants and animals.

They painted and engraved them in caves, rock overhangs and on rock platforms, on bark and burial trees and asked Mirrirul4 to guide them to plant and animal foods and to bless the spirit of the plant or animal that was killed. These acts allowed people to remain linked to the plant and animal guides and to accept the power they offer in lessons, in life, and in death. It reminded people that all animals are our sisters, brothers, and cousins and most importantly our teachers and our friends.” Source:  Murni Dhungang Jirrar Living in the Illawarra

The Ngarrindjeri people of the Murray River and Coorong regions called the Blue Fairy-Wren, waatji pulyeri, meaning “little one of the waatji (lignum) bush”, and the Gunai called it deeydgun, meaning “little bird with long tail”.  Both it and the variegated fairywren were known as muruduwin to the local Eora and Darug inhabitants of the Sydney basin.

This Aboriginal Dreaming story about waatji pulyeri (blue fairy-wren) reminds us that while we are all interconnected we each have unique characteristics. It also cautions the creative of the dangers of engaging in competitions to prove one’s worth! We are reminded that individuality is a very important part of our identity. Blue Wren’s story tells the creative that they do not need to engage in a competition. They only have to be their unique self!