Soul Recovery

Wild About Wool

"Sekhmet"

"Sekhmet"

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.

"Basho"

"Basho"

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.

"Patrick"

"Patrick"

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.

"Sparkles"

"Sparkles"

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.

"Simba"

"Simba"

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.

 

The Broken Winged One

During the 90's I volunteered for a wildlife rehabilitation center that focused on birds of prey in their environmental education programs. It wasn't long before I had the privilege of working directly with these amazing birds of prey by taking them out of their enclosures and walking around the wildlife sanctuary to give them stimulation and to become comfortable with human handling and interaction.

During those hours I conversed with various types of owls, falcons, hawks and a turkey vulture, to name a few of the permanent residents there that also included mammals. I had to overcome my fear of working with these incredible wild animals. I also know that's when my shamanic path really began.

While many of these animals were injured and could no longer fly or be released into the wild due to their injuries, but some were just imprinted. They had grown accustomed to living with humans or had been captive bred so they also could not survive on their own in the wild. Nevertheless, they were still extremely dangerous and had to be handled with care. I also had to be grounded when I worked with them. I had to connect to their spirit, their true essence, as I knew they were my teachers.

While it excited me immensely to work with these wild animals and I always looked forward to our sessions together, a part of me always remained sad for them. I wondered what it would be like to know the glorious exhilaration of flight and freedom and have it taken away by an accident. Or what about never having known freedom at all, but yet being a bird that could fly over 200 mph in a dive like a peregrine falcon? My feelings about these birds has changed over time, as well as the meaning of the lessons that they taught me. Some continue to be my allies.

One of my favorite birds became a turkey vulture named Retch. I never agreed with the name because I feel names are very important and despite the fact turkey vultures are known to regurgitate when fearful, the name did not do this bird justice. Retch happened to share an enclosure with a beautiful barn owl and so usually he would watch Artemis be taken out by the volunteers but he remained inside. Most were afraid of being vomited on so he was largely left alone except for cleaning duties.

One day I could take Retch's sad, dejected looks no more and decided to overcome my fear. It was a beautiful day as I attached him to my falconer's glove and brought Retch outside. Of course, as expected he vomited immediately on me out of fear due to lack of regular human contact, but immediately thereafter he spread his winds in a glorious way to catch the rays of sunlight that were streaming that day. He looked magnificent and I could feel how happy he was. We shared a moment of deep heart connection.

Thereafter Retch and I became the best of friends for the time I remained at the center and I believe he looked forward to our visits as he rarely regurgitated. He also taught me a huge lesson. While I was educating people about the wild creatures of our world, I still had prejudices of my own about what was beautiful. What is beautiful is seeing a turkey vulture spread its wings in all its glory basking in the sunlight whether on the hand of a human or in flight riding thermals. Since that time I have always looked up to the skies to see them in flight and honor their presence.

I will never forget those days with Retch and all those glorious birds of prey. They will always live on in my heart. I believe I now understand somewhat what it feels like to know freedom and have it taken away from you. For many years I have stayed in a region that has challenged me immensely. Yet moving back to my hometown from Washington, DC, I found myself pursuing passions that I loved such as working with wildlife, educating people about the environment and writing on behalf of the animals and this planet. I kept staying for my parents and later because of my son. Now I am still here because I'm attached to my land and all that I've created. Yet there was a time when I felt freedom that was not bound by responsibilities nor financial decisions.

Note: All photos shown were originally taken by photographer David Lawrence Reade www.dlrimagery.com.

 

 

 

 

Wizard, a Barred Owl that was blinded when she collided with a vehicle and could not be released to the wild after recovery. 

Wizard, a Barred Owl that was blinded when she collided with a vehicle and could not be released to the wild after recovery. 

Artemis, a Barn Owl that was part of a barn owl breeding project and kept by the wildlife center for educational purposes.

Artemis, a Barn Owl that was part of a barn owl breeding project and kept by the wildlife center for educational purposes.

Retch, the Turkey Vulture who damaged his wing in a vehicle collision and was not releasable to the wild.

Retch, the Turkey Vulture who damaged his wing in a vehicle collision and was not releasable to the wild.

Yoda, a Great Horned Owl that was imprinted by a well meaning person and eventually became too much to handle. He was later transferred to a wildlife center. 

Yoda, a Great Horned Owl that was imprinted by a well meaning person and eventually became too much to handle. He was later transferred to a wildlife center. 

Sometimes we are put exactly where we are meant to be to remember who we truly are. No doubt we are also here to affect the lives of others, as well as the land that we live upon. In so doing, we come full circle with our path in life.

I know that the captivity of those birds of prey in some ways was cruel and yet in other ways they had a profound impact on my life as well as the lives of so many volunteers and audiences that had the privilege to see and work with them. So perhaps, God does work in mysterious ways and sometimes clips our wings so that we remain exactly where we are meant to be. I'd like to believe those magnificent birds also chose their path...

“She is often the broken-winged one, who does everything all wrong until people realize she’s been doing it...pretty right all along.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes
— Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

I Need Only Remember...

We are the agents, the channels, the beings
through which Love manifests in this world.
In this remembering lies our destiny.

What if all the things that seemed unfair
turned out to make sense after all?
What if every life drama we needed
for the growth of our soul was provided for us?

I am the soul of the world
and the Song of Songs.
My life is a wonder and a blessing.

I need only remember.
~Joan Borysenko