Miscellaneous

Collage a Day (June 2015)

1 June

I don't know why, but for the last few days I've sensed a need to 'do something' in June...

Sadly, I have no money to go on a course or pay to be inspired, so to distract myself from the pain (I finally got Botox in my right arm today - 5 injection marks are throbbing along my arm and inner shoulder), I trawled th'internet for inspiration...

And I've decided to try and do a Collage a Day (gulp!)

So I found an empty journal (yes, I always have a stash!) and got to it...



On the left is an image from Country Living (LOVE that magazine!) and THE perfect quote clipped from who-knows-where...

On the right is a small painting I bought from Francesca Burras years ago called 'The Women' (inspired by T.S. Eliot, "the women come and go speaking of Michelangelo"),but which I never got around to framing! And other words clipped from magazine adverts...

I didn't realize I'd used so many shiny papers, which sadly don't photograph well, but you get the idea :)

'Here's Hoping' this daily project will indeed help me find 'Perfect Peace' as I 'begin each day as if it were on purpose, Infused with Imagination' - such fun!!
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2 June

I'm using this journal - the A4 size - found at the back of my art cupboard :)


Left-hand page
The large image is from an old diary - I never throw anything away! I've written some words on the woman's arms from the poem (upper right, source unknown).

I will sing. I will listen and embrace. 
I will sit with ease and purpose.

The other words are clipped from magazine adverts. I buy out-of-date glossy mags from a local market stall (3 for £2), so I'm happy to chop them up :) Other folk I know ask their dentist/doctor/hairdresser for any old magazines to cut up and collage.

Right-hand page
Upper left is an image from a old children's book of Bible stories, upper right is a page from an old Toast catalogue on which I've stuck words and an image. Sadly, I don't remember where the wonderful hot-air balloon pilot came from, but I think she's stunning!

Lower left is an image from Vintage Life magazine and lower right is clipped from an old Susan Seddon Boulet diary with the image 'Hatching' (1984) and the quote:

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.
Ursula K. LeGuin

I must say I am SO enjoying these daily collages - and of course my beloved Moonboards! They inspire me and so far I'm finding it easy to tap into my creativity... We'll see how long it lasts, but I rather like the 'not knowing what comes next' on the next page of My Story :D

NB
There's a new button on my sidebar - thank you Elizabeth for telling me about Enchant Your Everyday! It's FREE and starts on the Summer Solstice (21 June).
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3 June

I'm really getting into a daily rhythm... 3 down, 27 to go :D

Yesterday, I saw this in Tracie's newsletter and knew I had to read the blog post... It so reminded me of being that little girl who would lie on the grass and press her ear against the Earth... I swear I could hear the worms munching and the grass growing! Although I couldn't verbalize it at the time, I knew I was made of the same 'stuff'...


I've used this image, and Tracie's blog post, to inspire today's collage. Thank you, Tracie!


Sometimes I just marvel... I have been collecting these images for years, stashing them in drawers, carrying them from home to home, and for what?? 
{{TO MAKE THESE COLLAGES}}
Left-hand page

Why else would I have saved that cartoon from an old Mixtape zine called 'My Quiet Forest' by flossy-p? (I don't even think they still exist...) And a couple of years ago I typed out various quotes and sayings on my trusty typewriter. This one reads:
The world sparks and hums with radiance.
Even when we fail to notice,
all still shimmers and shines.

But I didn't add the source, so I've no idea who said it, but it's just PERFECT!

And, of course, dear Frida makes an appearance... I've loved her work since collage, but now after the stroke, she is taken on much more significance for me (see this post).

The little girl in the bear mask is a postcard free in Flow magazine, and I think it's a Black Apple image... I was never allowed to dress up when I was little (yes, there's a lot to say about that!!), so it's a very powerful image for me...

And next to her is a page from an old We'Moon diary:

Wind Prayer
I am every blade of grass and I am alone.
I walk the sharp edge between worlds and see far and wide.
Where is the middle? I ask. The Wind Mother speaks,
'You could not see both ends if you were not in the middle.'
excerpt Lynn Flory 2012

with the painting 'Queen of the Night' (Diana Rivers, 1986).

Right-hand page

A beloved Pre-Raphaelite painting, 'The Daydream' by Rossetti, and another We'Moon page with the image 'Blue Blue Hearts' by Cori Caputo 2002 and the words:

The Earth kisses the soles
of my feet
With each step, I bless her,
promise her healing.
Giita Priebe 2012

Underneath that is a page from last year's quote-a-day calendar:

Only do what your heart tells you.
Princess Diana

and a Teesha Moore business card I must have kept safe for over a decade!! And next to this is a much more recent image cut from a birthday card (thanks, Lois!), a favourite June Uriagereka painting!

And finally a woman on a bike clipped from a magazine. I loved my bike as a kid, it was my means to freedom - I would cycle miles around the villages! And when I went to Oxford it was the only mode of transport around the city, and perfect for exploring the villages beyond... I still really miss being able to ride a bike...

And there you have it - and if you've read all this, wow, thank you! Sorry it's been such a l-o-n-g post, but this has been a very important collage, stirring up lots of memories, and laying the words and images down has been very therapeutic...

Thanks again, Tracie, for the inspiration!!
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4 June


On Monday, 1 June, I started a month-long pledge to myself to create a collage a day. I find making collages very therapeutic and yes, nurturing. They nurture my creative spirit, my desire to play with words and images - they're fun to make and not too time and energy consuming.

As I can only sit at my desk for short periods, I choose images and words that 'speak' to me from my enormous stash and gather them on the desk, then I take a break on the sofa with my feet up (they swell if they're down too long). After a wee rest, I sort through the pieces and arrange them on the page, then I take a break... Finally, I return to the desk, rearrange anything that doesn't 'feel' right, and glue everything down.

It's a process, and that's where the magic happens, I think - the stepping away, the returning, the sifting, the sorting, the final pulling it all together... (Yesterday's collage was inspired by an image in Tracie Nichol's newsletter, and clearly something shifted... oh my!)

But here's today's (Collage no. 4 - the crows woke me at 4.30am with their cawing, but I found peace making this...)


I think you can read most of the words, but here's the two quotes I'd typed out a while ago, which seemed appropriately nurturing :)

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Goethe

Just to be is a blessing.
Just to live is holy.
Abraham Heschel

And here's the two pages in close-up... 


I find it interesting the left-hand page is quite colorful and bright, while the right-hand one is almost monochrome... I felt yesterday's collage was something of a breakthrough, so finding the We'Moon diary page of that word was quite perfect :)


You can find the other three collages under the tab 'A Collage a Day' at the top of the blog.

Joining Becca et al in Nurturing Thursday :)
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 5 June


I decided to try something different today - I drew a card for inspiration... 

It's been a while, but I pulled this deck from the shelf as it's based on collages. I bought it about 15 years ago because it's so beautiful!


The Nine of Cups encourages us to satisfy physical needs, to enjoy ourselves... [It] is often called the 'wish card'... (p. 63)

So here's my Wish Collage :)


Almost all the images are from an old Toast catalogue, which just happened to have a section on 'The Artist's Studio'...

Left-hand page


I added the wee birds in the sky and laughed when I realized the word 'Contents' could be clipped to 'Content' :D 
And I added a touch of bling with sticky jewels...

Right-hand page


I got a tad creative drawing around the flower with my black liner... (Thanks Lois for putting me on to Jenndalyn - her sketchbooks are amazing!!)

Wishing you a Fabulous Friday x
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6 June


In the spirit of full disclosure, I actually made this yesterday, as today we're in Oxford attending an Open Day here. Our daughter wants to study Architecture next year, so throughout June we're visiting various university Open Days to see what they offer... Exciting times :)


Left-hand page


Why washing should feature here, I've no idea... other than to me it represents home and family and care and love...

I typed out this quote by Twyla Tharp:

Art is the only way to run away
without leaving home.

I suspect my unconscious is mindful that next September our youngest child will have left home and officially Nick and I will be empty-nesters... (**gulp**)

Right-hand page


The words are from a bed advert, of all things, but I just love the script in which they're written...

The bird is from a glossy ad for outrageous jewellery by Cartier or Tiffany or some such - I cut away the hideous jewels (I'd honestly never buy such things if I were a multimillionaire - they scream wealth, with no sense of taste...) The bird, however, is quite, quite beautiful!

The angel postcard is hand-painted, but I've had her years and can't remember who did it - it's interesting there's an angel on each page... Maybe I'll 'entertain angels unawares' today...

Have a great Saturday whatever you're doing :)
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7 June




You can see other collages under the 'A Collage a Day' tab at top of the blog :)



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8 June


After a very busy, fun weekend I needed a calming collage...


Left-hand page


The greys, the blues, and some favourite sayings...

Right-hand page


A tad more colour with sunshine...

The typed quote on the right edge reads:

It's not what you look at that matters,
it's what you see.
Henry D. Thoreau

And the clipping from an old We'Moon diary reads:

Hold me,
blessed everyday tasks,
give structure to my days.
Bring me
steadiness in my art,
steadiness in my heart.
(excerpt Karen Ethelsdattar 2009)

So nice to be home on a sunny June day sitting with memories of a fun-filled weekend...
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9 June

While I'm not writing about The Artist's Way as such, I am still reading it and absorbing it week by week as I make my daily collages.

This is Week 7: Recovering a Sense of Connection and funnily enough Collage is one of the Tasks for this week (AW, p. 127). Here's today's collage - I made it pondering these words from p. 118:


Art is an act of tuning in and dropping down the well. It is as though all the stories, painting, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas that we can tap down into...



Left-hand page



The top image is from some CD booklet - no idea which, and the words are from a magazine advert - I just had to add shiny stars in the glowering sky!

Then two favourite Louisa May Alcott quotes (it was only when I looked at the completed collage that I noticed that were both from her!) - one from my quote-a-day calendar, the other from an old Susan Seddon Boulet diary with an Untitled painting (1974) and the words:


Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

Then a steamship ploughing the ocean and a gorgeous coastline 'Beyond expectation'...

Right-hand page


Some images of different types of human creation - a pianist, paintbrushes with the quote:

Every artist dips his brush in his soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.
Henry Ward Beecher

Under that is a postcard from Gillian Lee Smith showing one of her gorgeous dolls, and some backing papers of letters and a business card from Dancing Girl Art and an image of handmade books.

May we all find a few moments to connect with this underground river of creativity today :) x
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10 June


So here we are - a third of the way through my month of collages, yay!

Yesterday I dipped into this book...


... and this caught my eye
Between our two lives,
there is also the life of
the cherry blossom.

Written by the Japanese poet Basho in the 17th century, this 

represents the exquisite and haunting beauty of the timeless essence of our true nature, which is found at the threshold between our two lives - the internal and the external worlds. Until the two are integrated, the cherry blossom symbolizes the presence of an inherent mystery that we might touch, savor, and honor, but of which we see only fleeting glimpses. In the second half of life we have the opportunity to become and radiate the life of the cherry blossom by returning home to our essential self. (pp. 20-21)

Inspired by this, here's today's collage


Left-hand page


Top right is an image called 'The Return' by Autumn Skye Morrison (2010) from an old We'Moon diary. I know these aren't cherry blossoms, but they're pink, blossom-like and equally fleeting... I don't know where the birdhouse illustration came from, and I think the archway photo is one of Susannah Conway's, and some wise words...

Right-hand page


The typed Goethe quote reads:

Personality is everything in art and poetry.

I'm quite sure the antler photo is by Susannah, but I don't know where the other images originally came from, I'm afraid. The words are clipped from magazines.

Have a wonderful Wednesday xx
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11 June

I wanted to make a relevant collage today, so I've chosen only images that speak to me of nurturing, and no words...



Left-hand page



The main image of a woman potting seedlings is, I think, from an old The Simple Things magazine and epitomizes nurturing to me. Next to that is an old bookshop advert, which speaks of nurturing knowledge. Below that is a sliver of a photo of a comfy corner in a garden bower and a photo of a memory book/scrapbook taken from old magazines, which evoke nurturing old memories and creating new ones.



Right-hand page



The young woman image is from a Toast catalogue (they use the most naturally beautiful models, I think), and the adorable older woman is from an old Country Living article - I think she's an artist, if I remember correctly... These two images speak of nurturing beauty and talent throughout one's life. 



I can't remember where the other images came from, but the newspaper crossword image speaks of nurturing mental acuity. I can't do crosswords any more, as the squares and numbers just confuse my brain, hence the paper plane (I can do that!) 



And the woman in the field of sunflowers speaks of nurturing Nature's abundance. I adore sunflowers but I don't think they should be cut - they never live long in a vase... But in a field? Oh yes...

Sharing this with the lovely Becca and co.
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12 June


In the mood for a colour-themed collage... Blues and greens... The colours of a sunny June sky and the verdant English countryside. The birds woke me at 4.30am, and it's just lovely here today :D


Left-hand page


No idea who the portrait is of - an ancient Greek noblewoman, maybe. I just like the Moroccan tile background, which I imagine could have been in her elegant villa...

This is one of my favourite Alfred Wallis paintings clipped from an old Tate diary, and I think the lovely wolf illustration came from here, when I bought a beanie several years ago...

Right-hand page


Various images from magazines (I love how the blue has crept across the page *grin*), a page from last year's quote-a-day calendar, I can't remember where the lovely alphabet card came from or the embossed hearts...

'Tis a very happy collage - our son comes home from college today - how can he have completed his first year at uni already????

Wishing you a fabulous Friday!
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13 June


A happy Saturday collage full of fun and laughter... The garden's happy after all-night rain, more rain today and even more forecast for tomorrow... How I wish they could bottle the scent of a rain-soaked summer garden!

My heart is full... as is the house once again (son safely home from college - finished his first year of uni, already!?!) 
'Nuff said :D


Left-hand page


Right-hand page


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14 June





{You can see other collages under the 'A Collage a Day' tab at top of the blog}
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15 June


Can you believe it - I'm half-way through my Collage A Day??!!

I've found that some days the words/images are easy to find... other days I rummage and rummage through my drawers and drawers of paper ephemera...

Today's collage came easily :D


Left-hand page


I found this old book page headed 'And All the Heart Desires' and the rest almost jumped into my hand...

... one of my many bookcase images, a pre-cut romantic heart, a page from the old Susan Seddon Boulet diary 'Untitled' (1978) with the quote:

We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.
Mary Catherine Bateson

a colour-packed postcard and a field of marigolds from Country Living, I think.

Right-hand page


THE perfect phrase clipped from who-knows-where, a gorgeous mama and baby image (from a high-end furniture advert, I think); more beautiful Country Living photography, and the ubiquitous Toast model... books, art, words, flowers, people... all things I love!!

Wishing you a joy-filled Monday :)

PS The birds woke me at 4.30am, and the day got brighter and sunnier as I made this collage - literally and metaphorically!
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16 June

And here's today's collage - simple and calming compared to the rather frenetic, image-packed dreamboard...




... which is rather how I'm feeling as we move into Summer proper - bursts of creative, sun-fired energy followed by long, cooling drinks and lazy evenings...

May you enjoy the full effect of Oak Moon's energies throughout this lunar month and be deeply strengthened :D x
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17 June

I have this calendar on my desk and here's today's message:


After a fitful night's sleep (just couldn't get comfortable!), I took these words to heart as I made today's collage...


Left-hand page


The top image is from a magazine advert, the serene photo is from a Toast catalogue, I can never get enough Rumi wisdom, and I've no idea where the beautiful choir and handwriting images came from, but I love the pop of colour they bring :)

Right-hand page


Another Toast image, an old postcard, a black and white sunflower and random ephemera from Tim Holtz, I think.

The quote reads:
This moment, wide open, bring your love to the world.

I think there is a quiet contentment in this collage, don't you?
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18 June


I'm still being nurtured by my daily collages :)

I'm noticing how often the first piece I find in my stash dictates the direction of the whole collage...


... and today I pulled out the jokey 'B' postcard, and immediately thought, 'Let's go with blues and browns and have a bit of fun.' But it was only when I finished I realized how many images included birds and butterflies, and even some books :)

Left-hand page


Right-hand page


I just love observing how even when I'm unconsciously selecting images, a kind of theme appears... Isn't our creative spirit truly amazing? And I suspect, the more I nurture it, the more amazing it will become!

Sharing over at Becca's Nurturing Thursday.
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19 June
Feeling quietly thoughtful...


Left-hand page


An old We'moon diary page of the Ancient Ways, a favourite Tolkien quote:

not all those who wander are lost

More blues and browns, landscapes, open spaces...

Right-hand page


The image on the bottom right must be a famous painting as it is from an old Tate diary - some how the image of the woman at the threshold feels significant...
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20 June

Feeling pretty blah, for no apparent reason... 

Other than the weather - very heavy and sultry - feel like I'm carrying the weight of the sky on my head...


My malaise is certainly reflected in today's collage... No green, no Nature... I find cities pitiless, soulless places.

Left-hand page


The typed quote reads...

Culture is mediocre, because the most interesting people are under their duvets.

And I think the images speak for themselves...

Right-hand page


I find the bright lights of the city painful - physically and psychically... I am definitely a country girl...

I'd love to know what others see/feel in today's collage, especially if you love the city :)
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21 June



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22 June

Another day, another collage... And though the weather is not at all summery and bright (heavy grey clouds), today's collage has a definite Summer vibe :)


Left-hand page


Top left is a Cathy Cullis postcard - I just love her work! - and next to that an old postcard called 'The Siren's Sojourn'. Below is a gorgeous photo of a peony - I'm not a big fan of pink, but this page is full of it!

I love the 'g' postcard - an issue of Flow magazine had a whole alphabet of postcards to tear out and keep - G is for 'grow' and 'green' and 'gorgeous' and... I love that this random image of newspapers has a looking 'glass' with a 'green' handle :)

Right-hand page


Top left is a page from last year's quote-a-day calendar which reads:

If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
Roald Dahl

And the most joyful postcard of a wee girl on a tree-swing - the perfect Summer pastime!
Then a lovely Angie Lewin image clipped from a birthday card - another favourite artist! And a groovy postcard of Biba-type girl pondering her next Summer festival ;)

I'm not sure which the X is for - other than the pop of colour (a kiss, maybe? X marks the spot...) and a lovely random quote on the palest blue background:

when you love what you have, you have everything you need.

Exactly! :D
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23 June


Well, the final countdown has begun... What will I do with myself in July??

Here's today's collage - I had real fun with this one :D


Left-hand page


I love that Toast often uses older models - isn't she beautiful? And I love the Papaya Art postcard and I found THE perfect words clipped from a magazine.

Then two pages from last year quote-a-day calendar:

Whisper words of wisdom, Let it be.
Gotta love 'Hey Jude'!

And the ever wise words...
 Let Life Flow

As I get older, I'm getting better at this :)

And I just love the wee photo of old hands cradling some ancient pottery/sculpture.

This page feels the perfect balance between old and young - and the deep wisdom of both...

Right-hand page


A beautiful, colour-filled postcard telling me to Bloom, a gorgeous photo from Country Living, a page from the calendar (yes, I count my blessings every day!)

And a wee montage of random elements I found in the stash drawer... Always amazes me that pieces I pull out seem to fit together - weird and wonderful!!!
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24 June


Today's collage is a bit of a mishmash - no particular theme/message, just a collection of images I like for their inherent beauty or what they represent for me.


My energy levels are low today - a busy weekend + two more busy days = exhaustion - so I won't write any more about today's collage.

But the lovely Elizabeth did invite me to join a wee challenge - post a photo and a quote for 3 days.

So, if it's not cheating, here's a favourite quote that's on today's collage. The painting's by Liz Marsh of Elm Gallery Arts.


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25 June


This will be my last nurturing collage as I enter the last few days of my month-long challenge. All these images and words whisper Nurture to me...


Left-hand page


The gorgeously simple Will Barnet postcard reminds me of my daughter reading in bed, Molly-cat beside her; the We'Moon page called 'Symbiotic Dance' reminds me that ALL life is inextricably linked; the page from my quote-a-day calendar tells me friends are everywhere and the nurturing circle never ends; the colour birdboxes remind me to care for our feathered friends, and the spools of yarn remind me to nurture all crafts, skills and talents.

Right-hand page


The large photo from Country Living shows two of my favourite nurturing things - fresh fruit and books! The famous painting by Berthe Morisot of a mother watching her child sleep, and the lovely postcard of a dreaming girl remind me of the nurturing powers of sleep and motherhood.

The nurturing quote in the bottom right corner reads:

Our real personality is all light, all love, always shining. 
Upanishads

And as Elizabeth asked me to share a photo and a quote for 3 days, here's today's :)



Sharing it all with Becca and other nurturing souls...
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26 June

There seems to be a theme in today's collage - being outside, Nature's wide open spaces, yet...


Right-hand page


To mix it up, here's the right-hand page first - I sense the little girl with the big book is the key... that's where the magic happens...

Left-hand page


And the large image of the cute typewriter desk with the log wallpaper confirms it... reading and writing about both the natural world and magical realms is where my heart is.

But where the cogs and the number 13 came from is anyone's guess... Other than it's one of my favourite numbers - the number of the goddess and abundance (think, baker's dozen!)

And here's my third quote for Elizabeth's challenge - an all-time favourite :D



Wishing you a fabulous Friday!
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27 June

Ravens and butterflies, nuns and winged things, eggs, blossom and hope - 'A creative approach' indeed :D


Left-hand page


A magical Will Barnet postcard, a page from a dictionary listing butter, butterflies and butternuts, winged nuns waiting for a train(!) and a painted page scattered with tiny golden butterflies.

Right-hand page


A basket of eggs, a flock on a lake and another Liz Marsh painting called 'Hope Way' and this quote:

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
Anne Lamott

An old favourite Francesca Burras' painting of a raven in the sun, and a stunning raven queen (sorry, don't know where it came from)...

All watched over by beloved Molly-cat :)



Have a wonderful, fun Saturday!
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28 June





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29 June


Hubby's given me his cold. I've swallowed broken glass, my eyes and nose are leaking, my ears are plugged from the inside...
But still I made my collage between nose-blowing and napping.



But I really can't write more about it, so here's the two pages in close-up where I hope you can see enough detail.

Left-hand page


Right-hand page



Let's hope tomorrow I feel bright enough to celebrate my 30th collage and the end of this month-long practice...
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30 June

So here I am - the last day of my month-long collage making... And yes, I am bummed I feel so sick I can't really celebrate (summer colds seem extra-miserable - the sun's shining, it's 30 degrees outside, and my head's at war with itself! Ears, nose, throat hurting, leaking, battling among themselves to give me the most grief...)

But in my own feeble way I AM celebrating - this is quite an achievement for a half-paralyzed body!!

And whatever anyone else makes of this overstuffed book of 30 collages, I take quiet pride in it and feel a deep sense of accomplishment :)


So here's collage no. 30


Despite feeling cr*p, I wanted to do something different to mark this final collage, so I spray inked the pages, and left gaps between the images so the splattered paper can be seen.

Left-hand page


A favourite Papaya Art postcard - I think these words are a Soul Song for me! 
Random female images each showing a bit of attitude :)
A magazine ad with the words 'Hidden depths' and a typed W.B. Yeats quote which to me speaks deep Truth:

It is so many years before one can believe enough in what one feels, even to know what the feeling is.

Right-hand page


A lovely image clipped from a White Stuff mailer - proof that even junk mail contains hidden treasure :)
A favourite page from last year's quote-a-day calendar; some gorgeous artisan bread from an old Country Living article; a dove-cote from an old card, and a favourite image of Inanna (1973) by Susan Seddon Boulet and the quote:

A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.
Diane Mariechild

Amen to that!!

And there we have it!! I must say a big THANK YOU to everyone who's journeyed with me, left comments (both here and on Facebook) and spurred me on - it really made it extra-worthwhile and extra-fun. Blogland is SUCH a special place :D xx
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A Wild Soul Woman
This is where I gather my thoughts and musings on the wonderful course offered by Treesisters with Mary Reynolds Thompson running from 7 July to 11 August 2015.

I first read Mary's book Reclaiming the Wild Soul over Christmas/New Year 2014/15 and knew she spoke my language...



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6 July

Tomorrow I begin this amazing e-course. I've loved the book, and I can't wait to join with over 700 Wild Soul Women around the globe. (I've started a page at the top of the blog to record my experiences over the next 6 weeks.)

Since Summer Solstice, I have been wearing this 

It reads:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and mine is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings.

I actually bought this when I was pregnant with our daughter (she's almost 18 now), and while I've worn it many times before, for some reason this time seems deeply significant...

And on Saturday, I received this beautiful silver pinky ring, which Sharon custom made in double-quick time, so I could wear it throughout the course (and beyond!). It's just too perfect!!




I have also started writing in this journal which I've been saving for a special occasion.


I bought it from Ebay for a bargain as it was already monogrammed. The seller thought I was a VW car enthusiast(!), but for me these initials can only be this woman's (even though I know Virginia was her second name).

She was a wild soul... One of my all-time favourite quotes is this...


... and to me only a wild soul could know this.

I've written that I've struggled with the phrase 'Wild Soul Woman' for a while as it's rather overused and too often it speaks of a fierceness and a warrior-stance that really isn't me...


But I'm discovering through Mary Reynolds Thompson's five Earth archetypes a broader range of wildness...


I am instinctively drawn to the Forests and the Grasslands, although I'm sure through this 6-week course, I'll connect more deeply with the Oceans, the Mountains and the Deserts...

And I'm already discovering a gentler, greening wildness to which I'm keen to subscribe :)
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8 July

'In the desert of my soul, I...'

This is the statement Mary asked us to complete yesterday at the end of the first phone call of the Wild Soul Woman e-course, but what was I to write??


image flyingfishphotography.com

I am not naturally drawn to the desert landscape - I am fair skinned, avoid the sun, and much prefer a temperate climate. Even after three years in central California , I didn't tan!

But as I entered the meditation, I thought of the desert mystics, my love of stillness, and silence, and I let go of my anxiety and gave over to my pen...

In the desert of my soul, 
I am not afraid.
I am tall, I am proud.
I carry within me
deep, juicy greenness.
My skin may be parched and brittle,
but inside I am soft and rich.
I have everything I need.

I am a long-necked woman.
I am a strong-limbed woman.
I am a wise, discerning woman.
I know how to listen to desert song.
I embrace the heat of the day,
and the coolness of night.
Neither alarms me.

I am prepared for everything
this desert has to teach me.
I am not afraid.
I understand the rocks.
I understand the heat.
I understand the thorn tree.
I understand the lizard.
Sing to me,
I am listening.
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9 July


A wee poem I wrote as I pondered the stillness and silence of the desert - the first landscape archetype of the Wild Soul Woman e-course.

Silence
As I let it enfold me
my breath deepens
my heart slows
my senses heighten.
The ticking clock
birdsong
A whiff of sage
The long shadows
Moisture on my tongue
The pen in my hand.
In the silence
I am still
I am complete.


Sharing with Becca and others here.
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10 July

When I imagine my desert landscape, it is the African bush... it's what I know (I spent a year in Kenya [1987-88] and met my husband there). And I shared a home with these little guys - as in they inhabited the wee bungalow on the school compound - scurrying across the walls at night, resting in the day.

For some reason, I was never afraid of them. They are sweet-looking and inquisitive, but generally kept themselves to themselves...


As I re-read the desert chapters in Mary's book, and enter into Silence, Thirst, Simplicity, Clarity, Emptiness and Impermanence, I remember the gekko and I hear his song...


Gekko

When you are in a strange place,
Do not be afraid.
Look around you,
Listen, and listen some more.

Settle into the place,
Feel secure in what you know.
That will not change,
Whatever the surroundings.

And if fear grips you,
Grabs you by the tail.
Let go,
Let your tail go.
You do not need it
Right now.

Scurry to safety,
To a shady spot.
And sit and wait...
Your tail, and your knowing,
Will grow again,
Stronger than before.


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12 July


In the chapter on Emptiness (pp. 16-19), Mary suggests creating a collage to explore our desert soul landscape... words and images to create our unique 'songline'.

We find our internal music by discovering who we are in our deepest beings, when everything else is taken away (p. 18)

And you know how much I love to collage :D


Stuck straight into my journal... In the back of the mind, I had the poem I wrote on Wednesday... the strength, the beauty, the 'deep, juicy greenness'...

Left-land page

In the heat of the desert, I am being tempered, and shaped... It burns, it hurts, but I will end up being even stronger, more solid, more beautiful... like a Barbara Hepworth sculpture...

Right-hand page

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16 July

In the forest of my soul, I stand.
A tall tree, struck by lightning.


The damaged side shows 43 year-rings,
The other 51.
For 8 years I have grown and bloomed,
On only one side.
How can this be?
How did the lightning not kill me?
It deadened the right side of me,
It took my speech,
And for a long time, my smile...

But, the lightning didn't reach my roots,
The very essence of me remained sound.
And so, I lived and breathed, 
As half a tree.
And as my roots grew deeper
To connect me to Mother Earth,
I grew stronger above ground.

My trunk expanded,
My branches thickened,
My leaves grew lush,
And my speech returned.
Slowly, I learnt to listen
To the dead side of me,
To let it speak of its pain,
How lost it feels,
Of how the lightning robbed it.

And now, I'm growing around it,
The dead part of me.
And now, I'm embracing it
As part of who I am.
Now, in the forest of my soul,
I am standing tall,
As the tree the lightning hit.
And my leaves rustle 
My own unique song - 

Half-dead to be sure,
But fully alive and blooming
To the rhythms of the Seasons:
In Spring, I blossom,
In Summer, I am full-blown.
In Autumn, I change,
In Winter, I retreat.
And in Spring, I blossom again.

In the forest of my soul,
I stand tall.
I am the tree
The lightning hit.
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19 July

Nowadays, the only way I get around is on my mobility scooter, and as it's quite old old, it can't go far, or off-road, or up steep hills...

So while I can't meander through any forests or woods, I can still visit the trees in the immediate vicinity. Let me introduce a few...


A neighbour's resplendent Willow... She hangs over the high hedge gently brushing me as I scoot under her tendrils...


I  spend as much time in her company as I can... Always aware I'm sitting on a road, half-listening out for traffic...
But I can always hear her whispers... She speaks my language :)


The avenue of majestic Sycamores who line one of my favourite streets - a row of Georgian houses (many of them now B&Bs), of what once was the main route to London.

Looking up, I feel protected and there is silence in my heart, as I block out the constant sound of traffic...


The deep-grooved bark of a Beech on the side of the road... What knowledge there is in this splendid specimen! And as I moved the camera around her trunk, I jumped at a sharp bolt of deep recognition...


Oh my, a beloved Sister of branch and bark...
Standing there silent and proud as the lorries thundered by, totally ignorant of her deep beauty.

No matter that we concrete over their roots, these gorgeous trees keep growing, blooming, giving us shade on sunny days...


... quietly singing their ancient forest songs...
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21 July


I woke at 4.30am to spend as much time alone in the Forest before the rest of the family stirred...
So glad I did :)


Here I am sitting in the dark, green half-light,
safe, alone, alert, listening...


The stillness is accompanied by a glorious, mysterious but GENTLE silence, a sort of SHIMMER of soundlessness.
Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence


Find out who you are and do it on purpose.
Dolly Parton

All around me I see Soul-friends - Oak, Ash, Birch, Yew,
I hear my Brothers and Sisters calling - Fox, Deer, and Owl.
Here I knew I would find my Name,
Here, in the mossy mud...




My name is Selene... 

Ancient and wild,
Dark and glowing, 
Mad according to the world,
But oh so deeply sane,
Knowing the Truth of the Ages.
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22 July
Before I leave the Forest, I just wanted to share a couple of new treasures to aid me on this journey...


This fabulous Wild Woman necklace was made by the lovely Sara at the Creative Soul with clay beads, seeds and wood all strung on hemp... So earthy and honest - I just LOVE it!!

And this beautiful Forest Guardian was carved for me by ultra-talented Shona at The Wood Muse 


She's just gorgeous to hold and fit right into my rather eclectic altar :)


Now, can't you see why my Soul is SO at home in the Forest!!


PS The gorgeous Elen egg is hand-painted by the gifted Lois at SeeQueen Stones.
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23 July

As I progress in my Wild Soul Woman course, this week I'm entering the waters - the seas, the oceans, lakes and rivers.

And this came to mind (Out of Africa is one of my all-time favourite books and films!)


There have already been tears (I expect a lot more), emotional, soul-full sweat, but no visits to the actual sea, as yet :)

And while it's not saltwater, I know only too well the healing powers of the hydrotherapy pool, as my muscles grow and strengthen with each passing week....

Yes, the waters of our beautiful planet hold many a cure...
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27 July


Entering the deep, deep ocean... feeling the relentless pull of the Tides, powered by the Moon, whirling, floating, submerging...


Words are still a jumble... they pour out, but sentences will not form... not even into Poetry... 

But some of Mary's words hit home - hard in my belly...

Losing our connection with our natural gifts and desires is like the ocean losing her connection with the moon...
(Reclaiming the Wild Soul, p.55)


Since the stroke I have lost many connections - physical nerve connections, and inner soul connections... Hence I am lost in this Ocean... But seeing Mary's words reminded me the Moon is something that grounds me, calls to me, inspires me, and I somehow her relationship to the Ocean is key to me and my Wild Soul.

I cannot articulate any of this yet, so I made a collage instead... 


The only words I added were 'Enduring Beauty' clipped from a magazine ad. The ambiguous nature of the verb 'to endure' has always appealed... Beauty that lasts the ages like Egon Schiele's and Picasso's women, and William Blake's creations; but also the raw, wild Beauty of Life that pummels and terrifies... the Awe-full Beauty of Nature...

Left-hand page


I do love that I found an image with the words 'Body' and 'Soul' inscribed on pebbles and that bowl of lavender crystals looks like a Full Moon... 

Right-hand page


I have hidden images under the wild woman and the shell flaps (top right)... I choose not to share them...

My own words are tumbling like beach pebbles, but at least now I know the direction I have to take... Upriver, lit by Moonlight, back to the Source of my Ocean (According to Amy Palko, the Holly Moon is a time to ponder what 'coming back to Source' means for each of us... strange but true...).

I know somehow my Source is the Moon, and I know I have to navigate the rivers that feed my Soul Ocean my 'natural gifts and desires', and these rivers start somewhere high in the Mountains... the next landscape...
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30 July

Contemplating the mountains, the rocks, the stones...

An all-time favourite poem printed over an image of one of my lovely Selenite candleholders (I have two that stand on my altar, both gifts from friends...)


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3 August



Elephants of Ambolesi National Park in the shadow of Kilimanjaro (my favourite mountain!)

~000~

After a week of turmoil in the Oceans, I followed the rivers up to their Source - high up in the Mountains... And as Mary's Wild Soul Mandala declares, there I Climbed to Clarity, seeing things as if for the first time...


Knowing that I, like the mountains, create my own weather,
Knowing that I, like them, am grounded in who I am,
Knowing that I, too, rise from my core,
Pushing through friction and conflict,
Using the power of authenticity
To stand strong in my values,
I erupt into Service.

Thank you, Mary for these powerful, powerful images!

Invigorated by the clear mountain air, I read this book in only two days (first time I've read so quickly since the stroke!!)

Here, in The Women's Wheel of Life, I am in the Autumn of my years, moving from Mother to Matriarch to Priestess...


And with such crystal clarity, I knew I must commit to this - something I've been pondering for a long, long time...

Sage Priestess Training

It's a BIG commitment - on many levels - but I've noticed as I've moved through the Landscapes of my Soul, I was being called to stand tall in the Desert; in the Forest I declared I was 'a tall tree struck by lightning'; then in the Ocean I lost my Self... my bearings... my footing. I was Ungrounded (thanks, Caroline!)....

I re-realized, as I'd observed before this journey began, I must be rooted, if I am to flow!

And there's nothing more rooted than a mountain.

And nothing taller than a mountain in the landscape. 

So I am standing even taller than a woman in the desert, or a tree in the forest, I am standing tall and strong in my values, and preparing myself to be of service in a whole new role...

Oh my giddy aunt!! 
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4 August


Honouring the Mountain

Preparing to descend the Mountain and enter the Grasslands, I made this collage - I think it pretty much sums up what an amazing experience this past week has been!


Left-hand page


An image cut from a magazine looking like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music declaring, 'I'm free!'; postcards of favourite famous artworks by Gaugin and Rossetti; the words 'self I can see clearly now', and a Papaya art postcard with the words

Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.
Margaret Shepherd

Right-hand page


In the bottom right is a page from an old Susan Seddon Boulet diary with the artwork Cybele (1988) and the quote:
Courage is like a muscle.
We strengthen it with use.
Ruth Gordon

I'm hoping I can remember this and use my Courage muscle more and more...

And images that I think convey what a holy experience I've had on the Mountain... The wee jewels represent the chakras - when I first listened to the recording of last week's phone call, in the meditation, I sank down into my base, bedrock chakra, and gradually rose up through the chakras, activating each one, till all were spinning wildly and I felt I would indeed erupt through my crown spewing forth golden light...

I will remember exactly how that felt every time I look at this page and these wee, sacred jewels...



Wow, what a week indeed!

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6 August



Photo taken here last year.


Sharing with Becca et al.
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7 August


(Buttercup meadow behind the house in which we used to live - I miss it...)

~000~

In the Grasslands of my Soul, 
I sink into the deep grass, 
Into buttercups and daisies.
The soil is a warm bed.
I feel supported, held.
Overhead the clouds scud by, 
Sun playing peek-a-boo with Earth.
I hear the drone of bees,
See a flash of insect wings.
I breathe deep... and long... and slow...
Time stands still.

I am again the cute 3-year-old
Running up the slope to home.
I am again the plain 8-year-old
Rolling back down.
I am again the serious teenager
Avidly reading Hardy and Woolf.
I am again the mother
Delighting as my children find
Grassland joy for themselves.

And I am Me, here now,
A Woman of the Earth.
She with the Wild Soul,
who has walked tall in the Desert,
who was named in the Forest,
who was lost and alone in the Ocean,
who found her purpose on the Mountain,
And who has now come Home.


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10 August

As we come to the end of the Wild Soul Woman course (final call tomorrow :( ), I'm adjusting my rhythm from deep soul exploration to a settled time of reflection and contemplation.

It's been a full-on few weeks, and I now need time to unpack, lay out and ponder all I've learned and discovered...

But for now, here's my Grasslands collage


My first thought, on seeing the completed collage is the contrast between light and shade on both pages, then the colourful palette on the left-hand page contrasting with the more muted palette on the right...

These things are never conscious when I collage - I only 'see' them when I step back from the completed pages.

Left-hand page


The large image saved from an old Papaya Art planner was 'found' first with the words 
'Breathe, Believe, Receive' across the top and the words 'It's All Happening' written below, quickly followed by the page from an old We'Moon diary

Hearts Wildly Open
Breathe
Breathe love
into the cup
of your hands
and place your flaming
palms against your heart.
Let this warmth
melt your fears
like wax before a fire
and watch the delicious
softening reveal
the wildflower
of your heart.
We must live
with Hearts Wide Open
Hearts Wildly Open.
Kali Heydel 2006

The image is called 'Keep a Fire Burning in Your Heart' by Robyn Waters (1998).

Too, too perfect!

The page is finished by a clipping from an old clothes catalogue (I just loved the pale green colour) and a Greg Spalenka postcard - his androgynous figures always speak to my Soul...

Right-hand page


These images kind of speak for themselves, don't you think??
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30 Days of Harvest
Day 1

As there's a lull in my Sage/Priestess Training, I decided to sign up for Joanna Powell Colbert's 30 Days of Harvest (there's a wee badge on my sidebar if you want to learn more).

Today's email included this gorgeous, gorgeous image by Wendy Andrew called 'Harvest Night Dreaming'



Joanna talks about 'root energy' 


when everything will soon be outwardly dying. The plants have been harvested, and what is left begins to wither and die back into the ground. As the fruit dies and rots, seeds are released to rest beneath the soil until next spring. The energy that saw the plant through the summer and harvest season will soon be stored in the root.

And suggests we take a photo on the theme - The coming of Autumn...


photo taken on a scoot just over a week ago before the battery died... :( 

There is also a journal prompt


How are you preparing for Autumn and the dark time of the year?

I'm gathering scented candles and books and journal supplies (taking advantage of all the Back to School deals in the shops :) ) I'm starting to create what could be termed a 'Book of Shadows', but which I prefer to call a 'Book of Every Day Magick'...

Collecting information on the Elements (Earth, Fire, Air, Water - and Spirit!), the Moon, Celtic Tree Lore, the Chakras - all things I find interesting and on which I've making notes for the past couple of years. I'm definitely in a gathering/studying/learning mode :)

I plan to post every day on this 30-day 'Sacred Pause', as Joanna calls it - will you join me?
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Day 2
Short and sweet today...

The words are included in today's email, so I added them to a photo taken last week.
Conkers and acorns symbolize Autumn for me...




Also sharing with Becca over at Nurturing Thursday :)

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Day 3

I'm a little later posting today having spent the morning on a scoot into town taking photos of the Autumn trees along the way... (Yes, my trusty steed is back on the road powered by new [expensive!!] batteries.)

In today's email, Joanna quotes a favourite poem, I've posted before - Mary Oliver's 'Wild Geese'. But like every great poem, you find something new every time you read it...


Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.


Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.


Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

— Mary Oliver



Joanna focuses on the last line and suggests taking a photo on the theme My place in the family of things. This is my favourite photo from this morning's expedition, and it inspired a wee poem :)


My place is beneath the tall, elegant Ash 
Gazing up at her heavy bunch of keys
Dripping with the weight
Of future trees.

My place is in dappled sunlight
Catching the shimmering creation
Of the one creature I struggle
To call Sister.
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Day 4

Ode to Autumn



'Nuff said :)

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Day 5

Today's email features one of my favourite images of Joanna's Gaian Tarot - the Three of Earth
Three generation of women making potions and tinctures in the kitchen, 'building the house of the Goddess'.

The only time I've experienced this kind of communal activity is within the Anglican Church - here in the UK, in the US and in Africa - everyone sharing their skills and wisdom for a common goal. I deeply miss this kind of community, and it's what I've been searching for ever since I left the Church over a decade ago.

I've had glimpses of it online, but sadly not a sniff in the real world...

Where, oh where are the flesh-and-blood, goddess-loving people?? Are they all serving, practising, 'making medicine' in solitude??

Photo prompt: Communal creativity


Our exuberant fuschia bush - a declaration of communal Beauty

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Day 6

Photo prompt: Honouring the harvest


Afraid I can't do more than post a picture today.

Had my Botox injections this morning (to paralyze the painful, high-tone muscles in my right arm), and I'm feeling rough...

Till tomorrow :)
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Day 7


Today's email included this beauty called 'Mabon Mother Hug' by Wendy Andrew. To me it includes everything that means Autumn to me... falling golden leaves, acorns and oak leaves, woodland animals, all wrapped up in a big sweater and a warm hug - just gorgeous :)


And this wonderful Mabon song - what a gift!




Thank you to all the artists who add to the world's abundant beauty, you all make Life the rich unfolding it is....
Feeling VERY blessed!
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Day 8 - Merry Mabon


I know not everyone 'recognizes' the name 'Mabon' (it's relatively new, apparently) for Autumn Equinox, but I like it, and it's less of a mouthful for someone who still struggles with certain word and sound combinations!

So, Merry Mabon everyone!


I couldn't wait to change the Goddess Wheel on my altar this morning... Here's what she has to say (printed on the back on her image):

Feel me as Mother Earth
I am your rock of strength.
Rest at this space of balance, where day and night
are equal and prepare to journey with me
into the dark.
I am the setting sun, I am the waning moon.
I am the Autumn leaves
as they fall into me, I am Earth.
Feel My presence,
firm beneath your feet.
Treat Me with respect.
I will hold you safe
in the darkness of your
journeying.
I am your rock of strength.

Amen!

Then, I burnt a special Mabon incense made with rose petals and juniper berries...


... and anointed my precious objects with Mabon oil...


My wee Forest Guardian was grateful (she does dry out over the weeks between festivals!) She now smells divine :)


And look what a gift I found nestling on the altar... A wee cluster of faeries :)


As I smudged and cleansed the altar, they danced and alighted here, snug and safe at the back - protected by my Mary stone, my gorgeous Willow Spirit antler and my Red Tent Mama :)


Such Beauty abounds at this time of year... the turning leaves, the ripe crops, the plump fruit... And last night this...


Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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Day 9 - Nurturing Thursday

A shaft of Autumn sunlight hit my altar this morning, making my Selenite candle-holder shimmer and shine. Immediately this saying came to mind...


I haven't edited the photo at all, just added the words.


Sharing with Becca and Co...


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Day 10

Today's inspiration is a FAVOURITE Rumi quote:

Let the beauty we love
Be what we do

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the Earth. 

Rumi

And the photo prompt is Kissing the Earth


These photos are of the various rose bushes outside the front of the house. I gingerly got myself out the front door yesterday to take them (the front doorstep is BIG and hubby usually helps me, but he was away).

Thankfully I got out and back in safely without 'kissing the Earth' :D

~000~

And in response to the Rumi quote - the Beauty I love and adore doing is being a Mama, and 20 years ago today we were blessed by the arrival of THE most gorgeous, healthy baby boy...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAM!

This pic was taken last year - a family favourite of our beautiful kids :)
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Day 11

Today's email had this image - Six of Earth from Joanna's Gaian Tarot. I just love the market seller in her bucket hat!!

The photo prompt is Soulful Shopping

Sadly, our wee town doesn't have a Farmer's Market, and too many of the High Street shops are empty...  

But I do endeavour to make most of my purchasing soul-filled - I've been a user of Etsy for 8 years, and our home is FULL of wonderful creations made and bought soulfully!

Here's a very small selection...


'Moon Goddess' and 'Beneath the Waves' both by ultra-talented Ruth Archer


This beauty by Emma Hartley sits on a small easel on my desk :)


This beautifully inventive creation by Lindsay Emma Watson sits on the mantelpiece


And handsome Mr Crow made by Jenny Steer oversees my bookshelves


As I say on my Etsy profile

No matter how much money we have, we can all support artists and craftspeople, for they make the world a better place with their beautiful creations!

Indeed they do!
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Day 14

I have a number of days to catch up on my journal after being unwell, but I wanted to at least get back on track with the photo prompts...

Today's is The Riches of Solitude

I adore being alone - it's how I recharge - and I'm never bored as I always have books, music, art to entertain me... the option of doing stuff for a while, and then just be-ing at other times :)

But sadly my mother never knew 'the riches of solitude' - she hated it, feared it, she was never happy or content in her own company...


This is one of my favourite photos of her taken in the early 1960s when she was still a teenager. Look at how elegant and poised she looks, but also a little sad...

I find this image so poignant, as I know how she struggled with mental illness throughout her life... Before she was 20, she was a wife and a mother, and I sense she just didn't have the resources (inner or outer) to explore solitude... to explore herself, and her own rich wisdom...

She was a difficult and demanding person, and I grieve for my lost childhood, but I look at this photo and I grieve also for the lost potential in this young woman... the lost riches of her aloneness...
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Day 15


Today's email inspiration is another beautiful prayer by Caitlin Matthews:

I take the cloak of covering
from the fruits of nine trees:

blessing of cherry,
richness of plum,
knowledge of apple,
melody of pear,
sweetness of peach,
brightness of orange,
ecstasy of grape,
sharpness of lemon,
fertility of fig.
Nine fruits and nine flavours
to preserve my soul
in peace this day.
May the blessing of the Renewer of Hearts
accompany me this Autumn day.

And the photo prompt is Savouring Autumn Fruits - a neighbour's 'melody of pear' hanging invitingly over the fence...


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Day 17


Honouring the Lady of Compassion... What a poem for inspiration!

The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say
holy, holy.

Pesha Joyce Gertler

And the photo prompt is Scars... 

On a day when I again feel unwell, unsafe, unsure... I make a collage

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Day 20


I've missed a couple of days - enjoying a busy weekend celebrating hubby's birthday - but I'll catch up in my journal...



Today's focus is to honour the Harvest Queen as the Taker of Seeds, which I'm taking to mean Autumn is the time of change... the movement from life to death... (but always with the hope of rebirth!)



One of the reasons I love Autumn is that Nature puts on SUCH a beautiful display as plants and trees 'go to seed'... The journal prompt asks

How do you make peace with knowing that no beautiful thing lasts?

And my immediate response is that I find Beauty in the changing, in the dying, in the 'going to seed'!



How can one NOT find Beauty in this changing, dying bush?? Arguably it's more beautiful now than when it was all its lush, Summer greenness!


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Days 21 and 22

I've been without email for a couple of days, and it's been SO frustrating...



But now it's back, I'm making the most of it with two posts in one :)



Day 21



We honour the Harvest Queen as She Who Dreams with this lovely prayer:


Into the Womb of Night I am travelling,
into the Cavern of the Dark I am coming;

May the blessing of deep sleep attend me,
may the blessing of good dreams accompany me.

 CaitlĂ­n Matthews

As the nights lengthen, remembering the Light is vital...


A favourite painting on a deep box canvas by Tara Leaver watches over me from the top of my art cupboard :)

Day 22

We honour the Harvest Queen today as the Keeper of the Mysteries of Seed and Soul, dear Demeter, mother of Persephone.


I made a collage in her honour... The Yogi tea label reads:

Love what is ahead by loving what has come before

Delving the darkness of loss by holding the memory of light and love...


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Days 23 and 24

Yesterday was a blah day - spent the whole morning at appointments (diabetic review and pedicure), and the afternoon napping... Then went to bed at 9pm...



We don't change our clocks back to GMT for a couple of weeks, but I'm already descending into hibernation mode... So, once again one post for two days :)



Day 23



The inspiration was Mary Oliver's poem 'Song of Autumn'

In the deep fall
don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.


and the photo prompt was Deepening




My pocket mantra by Liz Lamoreaux

Day 24

Today's email included this lovely image from Joanna's Gaian Tarot 'Elder of Earth'



and the call to 'honour the Harvest Queen today as She Who Tends the Web of Life'.

I am mindful that my life is somewhat bereft of elders - especially women elders. My mother died aged 55. my mother-in-law lives over the States, and The Elder, whose photo resides on my altar never knew old age, as she died of breast cancer aged 32, so I never new my grandmother Florence Esther.


But as we count down to Samhain at the end of the month, and as the days and plants age and die around us, I am mindful of what a privilege it is to live to old age, to actually be an Elder, to see one's children and grandchildren grow and flourish. And once again, those who are no longer with us are ever-present in the Web of Life, as the perceived veils between past, present and future grow thin...
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Day 25

Ah, such inspiration in today's email... A poem by a FAVOURITE poet, David Whyte :)

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own.

There you can be sure you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb tonight.

The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

LOVE every word of this!!

Photo prompt: Sweet darkness


Love our fireplace at this time of year :)
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Day 28

As we sit under a dark New Moon, we honour the Harvest Queen as Lady of Darkness...
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings.

Wendell Berry

I am a child of the gloaming... My favourite times of the day are always dawn and dusk, whatever the Season. And one of the greatest gifts is to see the dawn of a new day, when the dark literally sings, as more and more birds lift their voices as they see the sun rise over the horizon...

Photo prompt: The Singing Dark


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Day 29


Today's post is short and sweet as we honour the Harvest Queen as She Who is Crowned with Leaves of Gold...

Photo Prompt: Golden leaves



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Day 30


Today is the last day of this seasonal sacred pause...

I've enjoyed it - making time to notice and record the sheer beauty of this, my favourite, Season :)

We honour the Harvest Queen today as She Who Gathers and Releases...

Photo Prompt: Gathering and releasing


Also sharing with Becca on Nurturing Thursday
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Very Virginia
First published 17 February 2015 on my 'Very Virginia' blog


I've loved Virginia Woolf ever since I read To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway as a teenager. Even then I realized her writing was unusual, with its focus on thoughts, feelings and inner-worlds. I so wished she was on my A level syllabus instead of the usual Dickens and Austen *sigh*

And now 35 years later, I've decided to start this blog dedicated to this extraordinary woman, her writing and the people in her life. Just today, I joined the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain (there's a button the sidebar). 

Part of me is thinking, 'Surely, there's more than enough on the internet about Virginia already. Who wants to read your two penneth?' And the answer is, 'Maybe no one.' And the truth is, they don't need to...

I am writing this purely for myself, my own interest, to work out why I'm fascinated by this woman and her life... If others do read it, and pitch in, I'll be thrilled - I do so enjoy good conversation!
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First published 18 February 2015

Last September, I came upon this series, and lo and behold, one of my all-time favourite books was being featured...


Presented by Alexandra Harris (a favourite author herself - check out her debut book), I was treated to a half-hour delve into the background of this novel. I saw Virginia's writing shed at Monk's House, saw her handbound original manuscripts, with her crossings-out and notes in the margins, catching glimpses of a writer's mind at work.

It was fascinating, and reminded me why I so adore this novel, written and set in the early 1920s. I immediately grabbed my adored Folio Society copy, and began to read... 

Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself...


One of my favourite descriptions of this amazing book is by Michael Cunningham in the Introduction to this particular edition:

In Mrs Dalloway, Woolf is riffing... She's testing not only her powers but the limits of the novel itself. We can almost hear her thinking on the page... Mrs Dalloway is like an improvisatory jazz solo, played by a relatively new musician, possessed of astonishing powers.

It ravels and unravels. It has loose ends. It coheres, but in the disorderly way that life itself coheres. Like life itself, it has patterns and themes, but is not exactly about anything singular or easily identifiable. It is about itself. (p. ix)


Those who like novels to be action-packed page-turners may not enjoy this book, but those who like a more pensive, leisurely approach may... I find it gripping, for it tackles the BIG questions of life and death obliquely, rather than head-on. Within the hours of a single day, in the lives of individuals who never meet each other, we encounter the disparate thoughts, feelings, memories and fears of Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Warren Smith, and they become real to us, a part of us.

As Michael Cunningham perceptively says in the Introduction, 

With Mrs Dalloway, Woolf argues that there are no insignificant lives, only insufficient ways of looking at them (p. xii)


I say, Amen to that!
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First published 20 February 2015

As I revisit Mrs Woolf's A Writer's Diary in the beautiful Persephone Books edition, I am reminded why I've always kept a diary, a journal...


... in which to spill thoughts, to rant, to relive life's experiences...

Clearly, my writing is not as remotely significant as VW's, not to anyone but me at least, but it IS important!!

After my stroke (almost 8 years ago), I couldn't read for almost a year, and I am still learning to write left-handed (I was right-handed, but my right side is now paralyzed). I now have a deep appreciation of why reading and writing are so difficult/demanding for children - so many parts of the brain are required to fire simultaneously!!

The first two years after the stroke were THE hardest! While I couldn't read or write, I was lost... me, Claire, was nowhere... (I was writing in my journal as the stroke happened - the pen falling from my hand was the first clue!)

But slowly, my coordination has improved, and with it my handwriting...

I'm still not up to writing much, or every day, but for the past few months I've been in a group of women, led by Angel Sullivan, and over a year and a day (from 23 October 2014 to 24 October 2015) we are creating a journal, a Book of Me.

Here are some of my pages...


I seriously doubt anyone in the future will look at this as a literary masterpiece(!), but that isn't the point. I doubt VW expected others to read - and critique(!) - her diaries as she wrote them. Here's her entry from almost 90 years ago to the day:

Monday, February 21st [1927]

Why not invent a new kind of play; as for instance:

Woman thinks...
He does.
Organ plays.
She writes,
They say:
She sings.
Night speaks
They miss

I think it must be something on this line - though I can't now see what. Away from facts; free; yet concentrated; prose yet poetry; a novel and a play.

Was this little entry in her diary the very first glimmerings of an idea that over a decade later became Between the Acts, her final novel, published after her death in 1941? 
I like to think so :)
And who knows, in among my diary ramblings there may be a kernel of an idea that grows into a sustained thought, a developed plan, even a final published piece one day...
I can dream!
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First published 26 February 2015

This week in the mail, I received this wonderful book AND my membership to the Letter Writers Alliance (button on the sidebar takes you to their website). Yes, that really is a sew-on badge taped on the card - reminds me of the Girl Guides :-)


As my left-handed writing improves, I'm keen to return to a favourite pastime - writing letters! 

I've had pen-pals since childhood (I wrote to a French girl called Genevieve for several years), and in college I wrote to prisoners through a church scheme. During my year in Kenya (1987-88), receiving mail was the highlight of everyone's week, students and teachers alike.

In our increasingly virtual world, I believe REAL mail has a vital part to play... to really connect people, in a way instant messaging just can't. 

As I wrote in my journal recently, I played for hours as a child running a Post Office (do you remember those sets with the little alphabet stamps??), then at being a secretary writing very important memos on my trusty Petite typewriter.


(mine was very similar to this)

But nothing can beat a handwritten letter or card, especially if it's come from overseas with its interesting stamp... 


Of course, Virginia was a fine Woman of Letters, but even she scrawled notes and dashed-off missives. Do you ever wonder how biographers in the future will do their work as our generation leaves so little hard evidence behind? A friend is writing a book on her grandparents based on letters found in an attic - will that be only a romantic notion in the future?

I ponder these things as I journal, read Virginia's diary entries and her letters...

And should you want to exchange cards/letters, do get in touch via the Contact Form in the sidebar. Together we can create small treasures for those who come after us to discover and wonder about our lives...
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First published 6 March 2015

Today I received something I've always wanted...


I bought it on ebay, it's been refurbirshed but the lock doesn't work, which kept the cost down...


It came with the pen tray and the ink well, but I already had a dip pen.

There's plenty of room to store stationery under the writing boards, and I couldn't wait to play...


My first left-handed writing with a dip pen... As I say, 'It's just beautiful! Will I ever want to stop?'

Such a happy, happy girl!
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First published 14 March 2015

One of my favourite sayings as a child was

Strangers are friends you haven't met yet.

It's what my Grandad would say whenever I shared my anxiety of meeting new kids - at school, at Brownies, on holiday...

Of course, I assumed he was the creator of the saying... only to discover at college it was W.B. Yeats, and the actual quote was

There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met.

It's one of the reasons I loved having penpals as a kid and why I sponsored a child in Africa throughout my late teens - to make contact with strangers in other lands, so they were no longer strangers :)

Of course Virginia Woolf had many deep and lasting friendships. This is one of my favourite quotes


And we're lucky enough to read so many of the letters she wrote to and received from those friends.

As I wrote in this post, I love writing and receiving real mail! In this digital age, nothing lifts the spirits quite like hearing the letterbox jangle and seeing a handwritten envelope lying on the hallway mat :)

And yesterday, I received such a gift all the way from Australia, from new friend Robyn. We're both members of a Facebook group called Singing Over the Bones hosted by Sharon Blackie.

And look what was in said envelope...


... a beautiful piece of real art - wow!


The kindness and generosity of 'strangers' never ceases to amaze me - thank you, Robyn!!

I love how the internet connects people and makes the world feel like a global village, but it's the real, tangible objects that make those connections stronger and more vital. It's the fact that someone thought of you, wrote a letter/card/made some art(!), went to the Post Office and mailed it, just so you could know they were thinking of you...

It's a beautiful thing, to be sure, and something to be deeply treasured!
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First published 18 March 2015

I've just discovered this! 

Simply magical...


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First published 23 March 2015


New stationery, a sunny Sunday afternoon, and THE most beautiful new ink...

It's J. Herbin's anniversary ink - can you believe they've been in business since 1670?? - stormy grey with flecks of gold... oh my... 

Apparently Virginia used to write with purple ink. I also bought samples of Herbin's scented inks and the purple one smells of violets - just like the parma violet sweets :) I'm guessing Virginia's wasn't scented...

I must say, I am soooo enjoying writing with a dip pen - I love to hear the scratchy nib, to see the page filling up word by word, line by line, the pausing to dip the nib, and the sight of inky fingers at the end of the day.

Writing a letter is an ordinary task, but it can become such a sacred act when performed slowly and mindfully...

If you'd like a handwritten letter, send a note in the contact form and I'll get one in the post... And it may even smell of violets! Or roses, or oranges, or...
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First published 16 April 2015

To celebrate my ??st birthday in a couple of weeks, I've offering this beautiful, handmade, hardback A5 journal from Not Only Paper.


It has lined pages and lovely extras...

Inside front cover

Inside back cover

Just leave a comment below or on my FB page (as I know not everyone subscribes to Blogger).

I will draw the winner on Thursday 30 April 2015 at 9am (BST) and I'll post it anywhere in the world the Post Office delivers :)

So, if you like Mrs Woolf, or know someone who does, do enter and help me celebrate my birthday!!
GOOD LUCK
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First published 30 April 2015

I put the names of all those who commented here and on my Facebook page on bits of paper and put them in a lucky bowl, swished them around, closed my eyes, and drew out a name...


Congratulations!! Your new journal will be in post very soon :)

And thank you to all those who entered!!
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