The photo was taken several years ago, when I had the joy of flying over Lincolnshire in a friend's tiny plane...

This blog is to accompany the Check the Box course offered by Janet Conner starting May 2013.
The title comes from the poem 'The Journey' by David Whyte (a favourite poet!), Janet cites in the opening lesson.
Janet speaks my language in so many ways...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Post 9 - Singing bowl

Like many of us in the group, I've been experiencing A LOT throughout this course, and I still have an awful lot to process...

I still haven't heard/felt/discovered my soul's purpose, but I have been collecting soul fragments - I just love this phrase!!

And this post is one such fragment...


I love that Janet opens each class call with her singing bowl, and throughout the course, I have been missing my singing bowl...

I bought it about 20 years ago, but I don't remember seeing it, let along using it, for several years... I couldn't even picture it...

So I started researching how to get another one, and as I looked at various bowls online, I remembered seeing a random wooden object in the bottom drawer in the bathroom...

I remembered to seek it out the next time I went upstairs (stairs are still a challenge, so I only go climb them at the beginning, and end, of the day)...

... and sure enough, it was my singing bowl striker!

So, I found my hubbie in the study, and asked if he remembered seeing a medium-size brass bowl anywhere...

'There's one at the back of my dresser full of old keys and stuff.'

And sure enough, my lovely singing bowl had been there all the time in our bedroom, full of keys, paperclips, a sock and lots of dust!! 

But now, it is dust-free, and a special part of my altar space...

And today, as I prepared to work again with my photos and sacred spiral, I realized I  really wanted to spend time with my long-lost bowl... studying it... feeling it... hearing all the beautiful sounds it can make...

And as I observed its beautiful, hand-beaten surface, its unique irregularities, I remembered my word/phrase for the year (I wrote about it here), which is BE A VESSEL...

... and I realized my singing bowl is a bowl of sound, and vibration, and cleansing, and clearing...

... made by repeated blows - first in its physical construction, and now, every time I use it, I strike it, and it rings out its beautiful sound...

... and I immediately wrote down, 'My soul is a singing bowl.'

I don't totally know what that means, but I love the imagery, and I love the sound the sentence makes every time I say it...

My soul is a singing bowl.
My soul is a singing bowl.
My soul is a singing bowl.

My soul is a singing bowl.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Post 8 - Another soul-incident, another spiral...

At the weekend, I decided to sort through some art supply stuff - mainly to find collage materials for my Soul Art journal...

And I came across this card, sent by Birgitta Lejonklou, when I bought a necklace from her several months ago...

And if rediscovering another spiral wasn't enough, I'd forgotten Birgitta has another shop called AngelWhisperer, and she had included a business card...

... and had written this affirmation on the reverse...

Oh my!!!!

As Julie Carlisle-Spencer remarked the other day on the course Facebook page,
Why am I always surprised, thrilled and humbled (sometimes I just lose it and sob because it's so perfect, so personal) by all the wonder-full connections...?

I am in deep awe and wonder that these seemingly random things keep happening!

Clearly, my Soul's been making connections for months (I had to buy the Life Force necklace as soon as I saw it months ago on etsy, and Birgitta chose this card, and wrote this message, to send to me), and I've seen them, responded to them, but not really, not deeply, not humbly... till now!

And now, I am giving them the real, deep, humble reverence they truly deserve, and I am oh so heartwarmingly grateful...


Friday, June 14, 2013

Post 7 - A Soul-incident...

For the longest time, I have learnt there are no coincidences, simply soul-incidences, so I always take note...

I was looking for green items to photograph for this week's Focus on Life challenge, which I've been so enjoying this year, scouring my bookshelves for any book with a green cover...

And I found this - a book I didn't even know I had!

It's FULL of amazing images from all times, and all cultures. Here's a couple of my favourites

The last one, especially!
The shape of our own galaxy mirrored on every child's head - WOW!!!
Just had to share :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Post 6 - Spiral 2: Back to the beginning...

Oh my... I really don't know how to express today's happenings in a linear fashion, but I'll do my best to hit the pertinent elements...

I set out my spiral again, this time under the gaze of my mother's mother, who I never knew - she died of breast cancer aged 32 on my mother's 10th birthday... but I knew I needed her presence...

But after a few minutes, I knew I needed to be with my baby picture, so I set it up against the candle, and put away all the other photos.

So there I am, a few weeks old, asleep in my pram, between Mary Magdalene and my grandmother.

As I gazed, and sought to connect with my Soul, Cara, through this picture, my monkey-mind was non-stop chattering, 'How can we choose our parents? How could I choose my mother - she who needed a mother herself, not a baby! Of all the people to choose... and why would I choose to be breech born!!'

Then, I stopped... I'd forgotten I had been born breech - full-breech, feet first, apparently!

Immediately, I asked Cara, why was I born breech? What did it mean? And I/Soul wrote:
Why would anyone choose such a difficult birth?
All I can hear from You is, Why choose the easy way? You know wisdom comes through difficulty. There is nothing of value on the easy path.

Oh my! Do I hear that? There is nothing of value on the easy path.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, is all I can say...

And once I again, I hear Janet's voice, 'Trust your Soul... trust your Soul...'

So, I'm trusting my Soul, and I'm noticing everything, because I know some things are really important.
Like this morning's poem from Panhala is my email box.

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII
Want the change.  Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive.  And Daphne, becoming
a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

(In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

The penultimate stanza really struck me this morning:
Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Hence, I sort of 'knew' my spiral session would be with my baby picture, and I 'knew' I needed to 'Flow into the knowledge', no matter how much my logical mind balked at the  notion, we choose to be born...

So this afternoon, I wrote out the poem in my new Soul Art Journal, and made this collage in response to the poem and my spiral time:

Trusting my Soul, and taking Cara's lead, every day, I am writing and making pictures in this beautiful journal

Made by Conni Altmann, using a fabric patch of her own painting, this is how I imagine Cara looks...

I started it on Saturday, and I'll close with pages so far, starting with the inside cover, where I stuck a postcard of a favourite author, Virginia Woolf , with the quote, 'No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself'.

Cara is taking the lead, and gently showing me what my Soul needs to see... 

Enjoy :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Post 5 - Remembering a dream...

I don't often remember dreams, so when I do, I take note...

I was hill walking, don't know where, just me, a backpack and a trusty stick - usually in my dreams, I am able-bodied again.
As I walked, I heard footsteps behind me - I slowed down to allow the person behind me to pass... But it wasn't a person, it was a white bull.
I wasn't frightened - when he looked me straight in the eye, it was with a gentle look.
We walked side by side for miles, in silence - except for his gentle breathing.
We came to a bank, with a stream, and we stopped - he to drink from the stream, me to drink from my caddy.
Then, he sat down, and I sat leaning against his flank. I fell asleep, lulled by the sound of his breathing... in... and out...
I woke this morning feeling strangely comforted and deeply calm.

Having grown up with classical mythology, I know the story of Europa, and Zeus turning himself into a white bull to abduct and rape her.

And, of course, the Minotaur story...

So I've grown up with the image of bulls as big, powerful, frightening creatures.

But as I read more on Bull symbols, I learnt they are symbols of
  • Stability
  • Virility
  • Strength
  • Stamina
  • Provision
  • Confidence
  • Fertility
  • Helpfulness
  • Determination
And, I was born under the Zodiac sign of Taurus (birthday - 28 April), although my mother always focussed on any negative bull traits she saw in me - I was stubborn, hot-headed, clumsy (bull in a china shop).

Maybe, this white bull came to show me the stronger, gentler traits of my being...

I must share with you this painting which I bought a few weeks ago with my birthday money. It's painted by Birdie Fincham and it's called The Pilgrims

Now, I was drawn to the name, more than anything else, and actually, part of it scares me a bit - like the girl, I am a tad nervous when I look at it . Also, it reminds me of The Magus by John Fowles, one of my favourite books as a teenager, and part of its attraction was it scared me...

Anyway, I knew I was drawn to it, even though I didn't really know why...

I'm sensing that my Soul was telling me something then, as she is in the dream last night, and part of it may be to reclaim the good, positive parts of being a Taurus, and to embrace the more scary parts of this soul journey...
I'd really welcome any thoughts or comments, as it's notoriously difficult to interpret one's own dreams :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Post 4 - Spiral 1

I know I shall be revisiting my spiral several times throughout this course, hence the post is titled Spiral 1 :)

Yesterday was the one day of solitude I'll get this week, so I started by listening to Tuesday's call, choosing my pictures, and generally getting in the sacred spiral zone :)

This may be a long post, so bear with me...

First, I wore my yellow jasper spiral necklace given to me by a dear friend several years ago - it's perfect for protection during spiritual work and stimulating the solar plexus chakra.

Then, I placed my Mary statue, who I found on ebay from a French seller a few weeks ago. She is Mary Magdalene, rather than the Virgin Mary - she's the only Magdalene statue I've found with her hair covered - usually she's portrayed as a fallen woman and her hair is loose. But having read Cynthia Bourgeault's The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, I wanted a Mary who looked like Jesus' 'Tower' (magdala in Aramaic), and I just love her authentic Semitic features.

Then I lit a soy candle given to me by another dear friend for my birthday - I'd been saving it for a 'special occasion'...


Now, I pause here, just to say, I wasn't looking forward to this exercise...

I had a difficult childhood...a very fraught relationship with my mother... and as I laid out these pictures, I bawled - long and hard!! I just let it come... all the work I've done with my own grief has taught me, grief is a spiral...

... you do revisit the pain of loss, but you're never in the same place on the spiral, you're never stuck in one place (no matter how stuck you may feel), and you can let the grief come, and you can know, you are in a different place on the spiral.

This is a new moment in time, and this sorrow will pass... and it did, after a while...


So, when calm and composure returned, I laid out the photos.

Taking Janet's advice, I chose as many pictures of just me, as I could find, especially the 'formal childhood portraits' :)

But there aren't any really recent photos - the downside of the digital age :(

I just worked with what I had...

As I laid out the images in a spiral, I paused to jot down any thoughts as they came - I love the idea of these 'soul fragments', and I trust, in time, they will coalesce into something more solid...

So I wrote:
unfurl like a fern
like a baby's fist

As I paused to ponder each picture, I wrote:

open eyes
open hand
open heart

peace from chaos - shalom
And as Janet advised, I focused on the eyes of my young self, the wide-eyed, toddler Claire...
... and here's were the wonder happened... my soul gave me her name!
I have never liked the name Claire - too short,  too abrupt. There's no song in it...
I did consider changing my name to Clara, or Clarissa, when I was at college - much more lyrical, more musical than boring Claire!
But as I looked into my own wide eyes, I heard,
Hello, my name is Cara.
And as I type this, I'm crying again...
I have been waiting for my Soul's Name since last year, when I started soul-writing for the first time. Janet's 'Dear Voice' never sat right with me, so for months I've conversed with the gentle, yet impersonal, 'Dearest', as I've written to and with my Soul.
But now, I know her precious name, Cara, and as I've since learnt, Cara means 'Friend'...
... but I already 'knew' that :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Post 3 - Shimmerings

'Shimmerings' are A-ha moments, things that resonate, or makes you gasp a little as your soul recognizes something... something that it knows is a gift. I first heard the word from Christine Valters Paintner over at The Abbey of the Arts.

I had several shimmerings yesterday...

It started with really looking at my angel, who stands on a ledge near our bed. She's been there for years, but for some reason, I really noticed her...

... especially the words beside her:

'Shine, let it shine. Become your own way to truth and light'

Later, I read this in the Celtic Daily Prayer, The Witness of Aidan:

One word, one light, one person,
one life He loved enough
for Him to die.
And the love that died,
His love that burns inside me,
impels me on the road
to seek for Christ in the stranger's face
or feel the absence of His touch...
One word,
one light,
on person on the way.

And then, I read in Care of the Soul:

The Greeks told the story of the minotaur, the bull-headed flesh-eating man who lived in the centre of the labyrinth. He was a threatening beast, and yet his was Asterion - Star. I often think of this paradox as I sit with someone... searching for some way to deal with a death, a divorce, or a depression. It is a beast, this thing that stirs in the core of her being, but it is also the star of her innermost nature. We have to care for this suffering with extreme reverence so that, in our fear and anger at the beast, we do not overlook the star. (p. 24)

I grew up with the Classics, and Theseus and the Minotaur was one of my favourites, yet I never knew the minotaur had a name!!! I just thought he was a baddie that Theseus had to defeat. But look at his name, Asterion, what a name! Even this brute of a beast had a name that shines!

Oh my!! Shimmerings and synchronicities - lots to ponder and absorb :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Post 2 - Listening

I spent Friday listening to Janet's recordings on Unity FM with Neil Douglas-Klotz and Cynthia Bourgeault - there is sooooo much to process and absorb... I sense I will keep returning to these throughout the course...

I have started using the Yahweh breath (breath in on Yah, out on Weh). Having this ancient, all-encompassing word really helps me focus totally on my breathing each time I begin my prayer/meditation time...

I've also added this book to my daily reading...

... I especially love Aidan's daily readings!

This was Friday's reading:

When we start at the centre of ourselves, we discover something worthwhile extending towards the periphery of the circle. We find again some joy in the now, some of the peace in the here, some of the love in me and thee which go to make up the kingdom of heaven on earth.

This really ties in with what Neil was saying about the kingdom, and I especially love his 'I CAN' translation of malkuth! I am sitting with this and absorbing what it means for me and my disabilities, as I know focusing on what I can do is much more positive and healing than dwelling of what I can't.

And I'm going to learn by heart Neil's English translation of the Lord's Prayer from the Aramaic :)

O Breathing Life, your name shines everywhere!
Release a space to plant your presence here.
Envision your 'I Can' now.
Embody your desire in every light and form.
Grow through us this moment's bread and wisdom.
Untie the knots of failure binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others' faults.
Help us not forget our source,
yet free us from not being in the present.
From you arises every vision, power, and song
from gathering to gathering.
Amen - May our future actions grow from here!