This year saw the beginning of my ‘Hollow Bone’ gatherings a series of group work wherein we explore our spiritual and shamanic relationship, to ourselves, to nature and beyond. It has taken me a long while to really feel ready to engage with this work. In fact, I was well into my fifties before I would openly and fully engage with some of it in a public arena.
‘Do what excites you!’ I always hear from mentors and coaches. So I want to help others to fully empower themselves by claiming back their own souls, this is what excites me! What is so extraordinary about that? For one who understands it, nothing at all. For those wary of it, its a child’s imagination and not to be taken seriously, after all we are far too grown up for that sort of thing!! But this I knew was the essence of my own work. Dance, movement, drum-beat and many traditional and not so traditional tools came into my medicine bag of useful aids. Some people would say this is new-age bull-shit! Others may think it ungrounded, unreal and unnecessary for today’s modern way of thinking. To me it is absolutely vital for individuals, for community and for the natural world! To offer
guidance in awakening innate wisdom and creativity.
I noticed the part of me that was shy of it, nervous of it and uncertain how others would meet with it. Would it be trusted and believed? It became a necessary task within myself to explore why I would feel these things. Was there a part of me that did not trust myself and my own experiences? Was there a part of myself that was quite nervous of it? Even part of me that did not want to believe in much of it. Engaging deeply with this work could take me to some deep core issues that had been part of my family history from the not so distant past, as well as the ancestral stories from way back in time. So to listen into the ancient stories that my own family carried, about keeping quiet, shutting down the voice of the feminine, her medicine, her way of being in the world, I could feel the unsettling force of how medicine ways have been banished and cruelly pushed underground, because of others fears.
There was a huge history in my family around abuse, alcoholism and distorted visions. There are divorces, children out of wedlock, marital dysfunctions and extreme hardship. As well as this there is the family that owned grand manor houses, coats of arms and millions in the banks. But all lost to a drunken gambling relative. It does seem my family has had a good fair share of diverse activities. My maternal Great Grandfather was a gamekeeper, working with the deer in a huge English parkland. My paternal Grandmother was a feisty lady, I always thought she looked like a famous actress or something, she was so glamorous. She was a proud woman, not one to be pushed around in any way. But then I discovered recently that she was the daughter of publicans, one being an alcoholic! Hmm, a moment of disappointment, but not for long, for this story led me down many paths of understanding and fathoming out who a part of my family was. I remember her giving me a doll, same as each of her granddaughters at the time, but mine was a black doll, where the others were white with flowing locks. Mine had short black wiry hair, theirs had blonde curls and soft pink looking lips. I was particularly curious as my doll also had a broken eye. The eyes used to blink on these dolls, but mine had become stuck and did not move anymore, one eye stuck in the wrong position so all I could see was the whites of the eye. I asked my Grandmother why she had given me the black doll? She said ‘because you are different.’ I didn’t ask anymore but took my doll to the bedroom where she sat on the chair next to my bed. I enjoyed wobbling her wonky eye, knowing nothing of what eyes tend to look like when a person is dancing into a trance!
Connecting to my own medicine ways, particularly my cultural medicine, meant that I would need to explore my lineage and some of what I carried around my ancestors. I was part of their line and many of my actions would clearly have come through them and carried into the world via my own nature. Habits and dysfunctions would need to be cleared and many changes made. So, this was would be part of my own
shamanic/spiritual path. Calling in from the old, reaching back into what came before me. Not always an easy task, however to be fully on this journey I could not leave out my ancestors. I knew that shamanic healing is about working with your own cultures wounds and had been told this very early on in my experiences with alternative methods of healing. So for sure it was a necessity to look into my culture, the society I lived within to find the medicine that would make changes.
I learned a lot from my family, mostly that often in the deepest of dysfunctions there lies the treasure. The wounded can transform their wounds into something far more interesting than just their ‘story,’ and this I find fascinating. And this excites me! When the wounded become the wounded healers, because they have lifted themselves up, by treating themselves in a manner that lifts them from the depressions of stigma and mental disturbance, a place that society would put those unfortunates by trying to keep them in their wounded self.
No matter what had been dammed in our society I had to push past its belief and made known what I stood for and what I needed, for the sake of my own soul, for its own strong and empowered retrieval. My voice had to be heard within its own boundaries of shyness and complicated protective barriers.
I knew that the key part of the ‘Hollow Bone’ work, was to be able to fully embrace my own medicine and to allow it to speak out. My connection to the world of Spirit has always been strong. I knew my spirit allies from a very young age, even though I did not know what they were or how they came to be part of my life, for it was a very private life, one that if spoken about caused discomfort. There was no one to ask, no human guidance and no teachers of the spirit world apart from the nuns at school and the priests in the church. I listened to their teachings and made my own mind up about what I could believe and what fitted or did not fit with my own way of thinking.
To be told strongly that something you believe in is wrong, at a tender young age, is both shocking and confusing. Better keep it secret than the run the risk of humiliation and teasing. Not necessarily from parents but from peers; childhood friends, teachers and those who would prefer to have their own strong opinions made known.
My own beliefs stayed firmly underground in my own hiding places of quietness and solitude. The images and the visions, the sensations that brought me closer to God. The animals and creatures of dream-time and the incredibly deep core sensations of innocence, written in poetry, in stories and weaved into tapestries of words that made no sense to others. I knew and I did not need anyone else to know. Not then, not in that world. Better to hide away what was most precious. And as I aged I would learn how others kept secrets also, and the only way to really know was to quietly watch, to listen and to wait. Until things became clear, until it felt safe and the information, from hidden depths, began to surface. Learning to trust this was the key to its knowledge. And once it could be fully trusted, then it could be shared with others.
In the shamanic world so much can feel unseen, so much can feel unacknowledged. But once we feel and know on a deep cellular level that we are totally received and seen by spirit, then those feelings become strong within us. Then there is no ‘need’ for what we once felt we had to have before, to know we are good enough, to know we are seen and loved.
The recognition of one’s own medicine is a journey that takes time. To know who you are takes time. Trusting what you hold is a life time of work. Our own personal development is very important, as we learn about who we are and become grounded in our bodies. I was a bit of a space cadet before I learned this, but it was my children that really kept me grounded in those days, doing the practical everyday tasks was vital. This was all part of my spiritual practice, my learnings in unconditional love. Being in service and holding a space for my little ones growth.
As time moved on I was able to engage more fully with the spiritual awareness that had been my lifeline since my early childhood. This is really important to me, though others may find it fluffy and of little meaning. It had never left me, I knew it never would. I could still find its strong connection and still believe in all that is shown to me. My guides became stronger than ever, I began to know for sure that it was time to share my medicine, my dreams and my love of the innocent world of poetry and presence. To play with the creativity of innocence, the wonderment of dreaming, the essence of the soul returned.
I understood that my work, my medicine was and is the art of soul retrieval, the reclaiming of our inner-sense, our innocence, the true meaning of love. To love the life we live and to live the life we love. When any kind of judgment can be taken away, whether it is good or bad judgment, when all that is left is a touch, a feeling, a connection. A vision of what is there, in that moment. It is just what it is, and that is all. To love that one moment is all that is needed. There is no need to make it into anything else. When there is judgment, there is clearly a need for action. If we judge then we clearly need to speak out and make it useful, else it turns into gossip or sickened energy that serves no purpose but to annihilate others.
In the speaking out and not fearing as much what others might think, from under the covers ‘Hollow Bone’ has appeared and is sculpting itself into a collage and fusion of colors and experiences, with its sparks of creativity, it unfolds a mysterious blend of magic, with stories to be told, art to be created and lives to be changed where they can become more strongly connected to the souls that wish to return. Where each human can find the missing pieces and transform through the theater of the human condition, becoming whole and embodied as the creative being he or she was born to be. It is fun, playful, exciting, magical and inspiring. It is at times deeply painful, soul-searching, grinding in the worlds of dysfunction as one story after another rears its head out of the reality of forgottenness and moves into its artistic play of truth and in the moment cheering forth its own illumination.
Here we are finding our own medicine path, our own shamanic or spiritual guidance, the essence or life that was destined to flow through us. Through our ancestral lineage and through our connection to spirit.
As a medicine woman, my offering lies in the acknowledgment of the wounded healers that have taught me, the wisdom that is given to me from my spiritual guides and my allies and the experiences of working with my ancestry. All that came before me and all that comes after me. It lies in the ‘right doing’ at the ‘right moment’ and the lessening of judgment towards life and others.
‘Hollow Bone’ can be experienced with all its magical wonder, with it’s in -the- moment creative journeys, blending together the artistry of the souls-actor and the reclaiming of our innocence.