Autoimmune Disorder

The Renewal of Willow


It's been over 7 years since we first moved to this property in a suburban landscape. The land and I have been through quite a transformation during that time, some challenging and some magical. As this land has restored and renewed itself, I have also confronted severe health issues for the first time in my life. As I struggled with overcoming an autoimmune disorder, I began to come to terms with the origins of it-- the trauma held in the DNA of my family due to war tragedies and now the cells of my body essentially fighting themselves. It was obvious there was a deep connection which has been unraveling for many years.

I could feel that the land could not breathe. I felt it so deep that I had an anxiety attack one day that was so severe, my son called 911 when I could not breathe myself. My brother attributed it to the stress of the move, but as the years went by, I began to realize just how sick the land was. There was a reason for so many trees dying on the property and the stench of the soil that I could smell in the spring when this former wetland was swamped with water. Gradually I began to listen to the land, revitalizing it by creating gardens and planting more trees. I allowed meadows to grow in certain areas and gradually the plants and trees began to absorb all the excess water and transmute the fertilizer and pesticide treatments of neighboring properties. I also came to find out that this property had previously been treated with chemicals something which may have created to a toxic buildup of metals in my body and contributed to my disorder.

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When I first came to this land, it was largely mowed lawn with a small wooded area created by a fallen Willow tree that had once anchored the energies of this land. Willows will continue to grow once fallen, ever renewing themselves, but after the Willow was struck by lightning, the previous owner decided to cut it down completely and burn the stump. So the severed limbs and trunk were piled into a wilder section of the property and the Willow began to decompose and become a haven for wildlife. Moss began to grow, fungi appeared and eventually the bark and wood formed a fertile ground for new life where wildflowers and other life could develop.

As the gardens naturalized, the wildlife returned. The orbweaver spiders appeared, all sorts of wild bees, butterflies and songbirds began to appear. I also immersed myself in beekeeping. Year after year the land began to heal and I began to heal myself. Throughout those years I supported myself trying to integrate my passions of writing, consulting and just enjoying life with continuing to work for other businesses helping owners to become organized or just following their direction. Sometimes the mundane routine was comforting and other times it frustrated me to no end. The fear of totally being on my own as a single parent was daunting and yet the stress of trying to manage everything was wreaking havoc on my body until I couldn't do it anymore and my immune system collapsed. The internal war I had fought much of my life had taken it's toll.


Being a sun sign of Leo with my Venus in Cancer, I have constantly struggled to integrate these warring aspects within me of fire and water. With my moon in Libra and my love for beauty and balance, it was even more problematic, but as time went on I knew I had the answers within me. My body was screaming to me to let go and pursue my passions, but I had consistently wavered. At least I had been consistent in being inconsistent. That moon in Libra can be very problematic.

Then last fall I began to notice mushrooms on my walks in nearby parks and also on my property that had not been there before. More than likely, most mushrooms on my land had been killed by lawn chemicals, but now over so many years as the land healed and began revitalizing, things that had not been allowed to take hold before, flourished. The stagnant water was being absorbed in a myriad of delightful ways.


One day I ate my first wild mushroom and that began my love affair with the fungi kingdom, something that had been developing for years but previously only from a distance. Having to overcome the fear of eating wild mushrooms, something that has largely been imposed by our modern society, I felt suddenly empowered. That day became a milestone for a very long journey that lasted 1 1/2 years. Though I rebounded numerous times during that period, I was slowly regaining my health. There were times I thought I would never be free of the pain and fatique, but eventually my strength returned.


On the Autumn Equinox, a black and white cat caught my attention in the wooded area of my property. She stood next to the largest mushroom I had ever seen on my property, an 8 inch Shaggy Parasol aka Chlorophyllum Rhacodes, a mushroom I had first identified last year and eaten several times enjoying its wild, earthy taste. Initially it had been difficult for me to reconcile eating what I thought was one of the most beautifully designed mushrooms I had ever encountered, but I knew that it was all part of the plan.

I knew these mushrooms from the Willow tree that had slowly been decomposing from the form that once was, had given me a gift on this sacred day-- a piece of her to revitalize my body once more. It was only fitting that I should feast on food of the Goddess, delicious red raspberries and wild mushrooms on the day of equal darkness and light. I knew deep in my heart that eating this wild food from Nature, from the land that was mine, from the land that had healed as I had healed, was the connection I needed toward the complete restoration of my health, as I continue the next step in my journey, this process of connecting more deeply to the Earth and my own heart.


2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison. All photos and content subject to written permission by author.

Wild About Wool



I continue to be drawn to activities that have been recovering the creativity that I once had as a child. I used to love painting watercolors of the characters in Walt Disney movies that I watched. I still have several of those paintings to remind me of my inner creative child that somehow was lost as I hurried to become an adult. Gradually more and more of my creativity was lost until I could not even remember that I was more than analytical. The return of my artistic nature began to occur through my love of writing and with my interior design work. Eventually I also explored creating with my gardens and various projects upon my land.

Recently while doing a 7 week Soul Recovery Training with Robert Moss, I found more and more pieces of myself being restored. The first day of class, my sister told me that she had found a painting of mine in her attic.  I didn't even recognize it when she sent me the photo. I can still not recall the actually painting of it, though I do recognize it as my own work and know why it was left amidst her things.



Three weeks into the coursework, I faced my fears and attempted to try something new-- needle wool felting. I had purchased several wool collectibles over the years and was intrigued by how much creativity was involved in these objects. I believe I was being simultaneously drawn to the wool as well. At that time, I never thought of making something similar myself. Many years later and almost exactly 2 months after the arrival of my first kits from England, I began my first project. I have usually done well at whatever I have put my mind to, but starting something new at this point in my life and after just a few tutorials on Youtube seemed a bit daunting. It took me a while to adjust to the idea of learning to work with wool since I knew absolutely nothing about it except that I used to be allergic to wearing it on my skin.



Coinciding with my latest creative pursuit, was my need to also wear wool sweaters. Instinctively I think my body was telling me it was healthier to wear a textile that had been woven into clothing for millenia instead of the chemically treated synthetics that I had gotten used to over the years, which always filled me with static during winter months and often looked horrible after a few months of washing. So, along with my hands working with wool, my body was now being clothed with sweaters from Ireland. Gradually I also began restoring dexterity and more feeling to my hands that had experienced painful inflammation and nerve damage from an autoimmune disorder I had developed from years of stress and doing work I didn't love. Somehow it seemed the eye hand coordination of working with the wool was stimulating new neural pathways in my brain.



It turns out there's a reason why wool has been used throughout history. It has many virtues. Wool absorbs moisture from the air and decreases static electricity. It is also water repellent and healthy. Wool insulates against heat and cold as it acts as an insulator. It is precisely this ability to absorb moisture from the air that prevents the build up of static electricity, which is the result of an imbalance between negative and positive charges in an object. Wool also does not attract dust or lint from the air. Why am I surprised my body was telling me to wear it now?

Felting is the oldest form of fabric known to mankind. No wonder I had such a draw to it. It was held within my ancestral memories. Somehow I was connecting to an inner knowing of a time long ago, perhaps some memory from the past, as it felt so familiar to me right from the beginning. After my first project, a brown hare, I was hooked. I immediately continued on with other creations. With each creature that was birthed, I found a piece of myself somehow being restored. I wasn't buying something someone else had created, I was creating something from scratch that was uniquely my own even if I had followed a blueprint. I was fascinated by the way in which each creature turned out differently and began to take on a personality of its own. Each was infused with my loving intentions and thoughts as I felted. As my skills improve, I intend to create my own designs perhaps honoring all the creatures I have met along my path.



While I certainly didn't need more collectibles in my home, creating something from wool has been extremely therapeutic both mentally and physically as a means to relieve stress and enjoy the satisfaction of creating something from pieces of wool. There is something primal about connecting energetically with wool, sheep and the Earth that cannot be put into words, but my body and psyche feel the ancestral memories. It has also been a way to retrieve pieces of my soul that had long been lost since childhood. As each character came to life, I found myself being carried away from the chaos and turbulence of our present world while enabling me to focus on what is important-- remembering who I was, while dreaming a new narrative into being and embracing my creativity.


2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.