Inspiration

I am Willow: a Piece of Hope

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When I first thought to write this story I was full of anger and anguish. About 8 days have gone by and I feel somewhat differently about everything. So much had coincided with my experience this past week, that at times I felt overwhelmed, with little hope for the future of this planet. The recent tragic loss of so much life in the Greek village of Mati near Athens, accompanied by raging wildfires throughout California and other parts of the world grieved me immensely. All I could see was destruction, along with my own recent personal experience that left me in tears and triggered the onset of immense sadness and overwhelm at the state of the world. And yet, I'm sure there were miracles that occurred in Greece, like the story of this little dog that survived against incredible odds. This is my story about Willow.

I grew up alongside a tributary of Cayuga Creek where the waters sometimes reached the level of our home and occasionally flooded our basement. One summer we had left for Germany to visit my grandparents and other family, only to return to a basement flooded with water with many possessions lost. The tributary ran behind our house that had been built in the 1950's. My father had painstakingly planted most of the trees and shrubs that grew on our property. In the backyard was a Willow that I often climbed or played under with my cats. When my parents sold that house, the new owner eventually cut down all the trees and hedges that had given privacy, shade and beauty. At the time, I didn't realize the significance of Willow in my life nor all that tree had been doing to absorb water from a development that had likely been built way too close to wetland. Willow would continue to play a significant role in my life.

When I moved to my current home, the remnants of a Willow tree that had once stood tall lay in a heap next to a wooded area of the property. The tree had been struck by lightning during a storm and its stump later burnt to the ground. I wrote a story of my experiences in The Renewal of Willow. It wasn't until many years went by that I realized the immense need for this Willow tree and her water absorbing/purifying qualities due to the many problems I experienced with the land, which held an underground spring, if not several. I planted many trees to replace her like Sycamore, various smaller trees of the Willow family, as well as numerous gardens, while existing trees matured and meadows were allowed to develop. However, Willow's power and ability to transform were undeniable. The land was former wetland located in a town that had overdeveloped its floodplain areas and often allowed developments or redirected water where it should not have.

In this same town where I now live is a beautiful park that has been undergoing immense transition over the 8 years since we moved here. Many of the older Pines, Firs and other trees have been lost to insects and/or disease or are currently weak, yet many new trees continue to be planted year after year by the park's crew. Many of them most likely I will never see mature for various reasons. The park is full of wildlife. Last year an old Willow tree had fallen over due to strong winds and storm that have been becoming more and more frequent in our area. I was happy this spring when the Willow still lay where she had fallen. No doubt management of the park knew her ability to renew and had left most of her trunk intact with only the branches taken away. 

Last week while walking in the park with my dogs, a Red Tailed Hawk drew my attention. It seemed to have prey in its mouth and flew to where this Willow had fallen. It was an area I had not walked in a while. Much to my delight, the Willow had renewed herself and was now a fountain of bright green cascading branches. My heart swelled to see how beautiful she was though now just probably about 6' tall, a fraction of what she once was. The Hawk sat on her torn up roots, a perfect place to eat his mouse meal and survey his hunting territory. As he flew away, I walked up to the Willow to get a closer look and caress her shining, light-filled leaves. I was happy. She gave me hope that even though something terrible could happen amidst a natural disaster, the power of restoration is always there as long as Nature is allowed to be.

Willow has long been seen as a tree of healing due to  her inherent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties found in today's aspirin. She is also associated with magic, poetry, and music. The goddess Persephone, whose story is one of rebirth after descending into the darkness of the bowels of the Earth, is associated with Willow trees. As time goes on, I realize more and more why I relate so much to this tree and what she has taught me throughout my life, which has followed a path that was never straight and narrow, but ever winding in sinuous ways into the unknown.

"Willows are water loving, and water is an archetypal symbol of the feminine energies of birth, creativity, intuition and the moon. Willow is a magical and healing tree."-- Ted Andrews, Nature-Speak

Three days after visiting Willow, I was walking late in the park. It was almost dark as I stopped to talk with one of the park caretakers that I have become friends with. I took this opportunity to tell him about my experience with the Willow and the Hawk. He hesitated with his response and asked "which Willow?" I replied "the one not too far from here." With sadness, he replied that the Willow had been cut up and grounded that very morning. He had not been there and his supervisor had given the orders to other workers. I could not believe his words. How could they? It was obvious this tree had survived and had still been very much alive. I had just seen its display of vitality the other day. What were the chances of all this happening in a matter of days?

His reply suggested that this tree may not have been part of the 'master plan' and yet he even added "a master plan is what you make it". It was clear this tree had not fit the criteria of ecology management in the park. The Willow's rebirth had not fit into that square box that so often is held by park management and institutions. Given the flooding problems the park had experienced during torrential downpours in recent years, it seemed a huge mistake to me to kill this Willow. Such a water loving tree was at home in this park when so many others were dying or struggling because they could not handle the land and water energies in the park where nearby Cayuga Creek had been dammed and partially redirected.

I thought in anger, how very typical of the male dominated world, where the feminine power is so often intentionally suppressed, controlled or destroyed. The power to heal is contained within all humans, but even more so in the feminine energy that gives birth to all life. Here had been a perfect example of this sacred tree's ability to heal and renew herself, and despite her obvious demonstration, her life had been snuffed out by men who were just following orders from another man without questioning their validity or appropriateness.

In the dark I walked over to where that green fountain of light had once sprung and that night I grieved immensely for that enduring tree that had just a few days ago given me such delight. I was so angry at the ignorance of man and a supervisor's decision to snuff out the light of this miraculous tree that is known for her regenerative abilities. The following day I took my dogs and walked over to where the Willow once was. There was no Hawk. There was only mulch where the green cascading branches once stood. I looked amidst the rubble for branches but there seemed to be none. Of all the times for workers to be meticulous! But there, amidst the ground up remains of Willow, was one tiny branch that had not been carried off. It had so little life left in it but I carried it off anyway and continued on my walk.

A mature Willow (not the ones in this story)

A mature Willow (not the ones in this story)

I had little hope of this branch sprouting, but I put the sprig in a glass of water to see if it would root. Willow is a tree that has the unique ability to sprout roots simply by placing a branch in the ground. The daughter of the Willow tree that once stood on my land, lives on a neighboring property now tall and grand. My neighbor a few doors down, once told me he loves trees and years ago had taken a small branch and placed it in the ground on his property. Now its grace and majestic branches provide shade and water absorption for his land memorializing the Willow that once stood here.

Today is Lammas or Lughnassadh, the day of celebration for the first grain harvest- a day of giving thanks for abundance, practiced for centuries by English-speaking and Celtic traditions. As I looked at my tiny Willow sprig in the jar this morning, I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than a miraculous display of enduring life in front of me. Much to my surprise, tiny nodules had appeared where new roots were growing and there were two new sprouts of leaves. The sight of this new growth gave me a moment of joy. A seemingly insignificant thing many would say, but Nature has always spoken to me in symbolism via tiny details or little things that happen on my path. I am grateful for this tiny message received today. Perhaps I will be a majestic tree once more, this surviving branch says to me. I am Willow...

 

Copyright 2018 Clarissa Harison/Awen Environments. All rights reserved.

The Light that is You

I found this to be such an inspirational poem I ran across recently. To me it speaks volumes of how we each have a role to play in this ever evolving world.

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world
All things break.
And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say,
But with intention.
So go.
Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness
For the Light that is You.
— L. R. Knost

Mourning Dove in the Dark

Mourning Dove in the Light, Cliffs of Lima, Peru

Mourning Dove in the Light, Cliffs of Lima, Peru

It had been a day of syncronicities and usually when more than one occurs, there's a strong message there for me. This was one of those days. That morning my hibiscus plant had brought forth a beautiful flower bloom despite it being late autumn. The rich, orange color made me feel gratitude especially amidst the many gray days we had seen as winter approached. It had been a great start to the day for me. Later while driving home, I had also seen a Buck in the distance frantically searching for a safe place amidst the traffic and chaos of the road. His appearance, once again, a special symbolic moment.

That evening I had walked with my dogs amidst a starlit night sky. Despite the cold and darkness, I was determined to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise after a long day of work adjusting to a new environment that had drained me energetically. I could clearly see the Pleiades, as well as Jupiter and Venus that had paired in a recent conjunction. The two planets were still close to each other shining brightly. Somehow it all felt magical as I thought I might even see a falling star that night. Something felt like it was in the air.

I had recently had a vivid dream in which I was sitting beneath a star filled night sky where many meteor showers were displayed. The stars kept falling from the sky. In that same dream, a flock of Falcons also appeared during the night. The symbolism of the contradiction still eluded me since Falcons do not fly in flocks nor do they appear at night. They are day birds of prey. I felt the dream was perhaps a premonition of powerful energies descending upon the Earth, though the symbolism could be viewed in many ways. As time passes, I usually understand the metaphors. As always, I just needed to be patient until the symbolism revealed itself in my life.

Source: Sheila Sellers Images

Source: Sheila Sellers Images

This night I was to once again, have a day bird appear to me in the night. This time it was in the real world and not in my dreams. As my dogs and I continued walking, I suddenly stopped and looked down on the ground with my flashlight and there was a Mourning Dove sitting motionless in the dark on the asphalt paved path away from any protective trees or shrubs. I shined my flashlight on her for quite a while so surprised to see her. I thought she must be injured because this was highly unusual behavior. As I began to take off my gloves, she must have sensed I was about to pick her up and she suddenly flew away. The moment left me in awe with such a feeling of mysticism. This songbird who usually seeks shelter away from predators, had caught my attention underneath the stars.

I went home and continued reading Sue Monk Kidd's book When the Heart Waits wherein she discusses a spiritual turning point in her life and how sometimes you just have to be with your question, until the answer arrives. This advice had struck a chord with me due to the many unanswered questions currently in this world and in my own life. The words felt like very wise advice and they gave me peace as they resonated with my own inner knowing that all was well despite what things may seem in this moment. 

Source: Nancy Barrett Photography

Source: Nancy Barrett Photography

Mourning Doves have been very significant in my life. Their soft, peaceful cooing sound has always been soothing to me. They have usually been guideposts that something significant is about to happen. They have come to symbolize transition and new experiences for me. Many years ago while my son was very young, a Mourning Dove hit my windshield on the way to meet a client to consecrate the building of their new home on Seneca land. I will never forget that moment as the Dove died on impact. I was devastated and unnerved as I continued driving to what would be a challenging ceremony. At the same time I also knew that animals often transition to spirit to be your ally. I had been told by a Native American teacher that in her tribal beliefs, it is called "a giveaway". Not surprisingly that day was to be a turning point in my career as I began focusing on ceremonial shamanic work clearing memories and healing the homes and land of clients.

Sometimes it is in their passing that these doves have crossed my path, but never have they appeared at night time. Throughout the years Mourning Dove has appeared on special occasions when changes were occurring in my life, but usually it was just feathers scattered near my bird feeder and once, an injured dove whose wounds were too severe that I could not save. During the beginning of my pilgrimage throughout southern Peru a few years ago, Mourning Dove appeared again this time basking in the sunlight on the cliffs of Peru while I sat dining a few feet away. It wasn't until recently that I realized the significance at the beginning of a journey that would be quite arduous in terms of adjusting to the altitude and endless travel, as well as the shadow and illusion that I would encounter along the way. I know now that she came to reassure me that I was always surrounded by light, despite the tests of faith I would experience as a result of this trip.

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

This latest appearance of Mourning Dover under a star filled sky was immensely powerful to my psyche. I felt that because she appeared surrounded by darkness this time and I had needed to shine the light on her, there would be some type of reversal in my life. Not only had I encountered hardships and several disappointments as a result of my trip abroad, but I had also gone through a tremendous healing crisis shortly after my return to the US and had been through a very long and complex healing process. There had been great upheaval in my life as I struggled to come to terms with how my life was and how I would like it to be.

Mourning Dove appeared once more in December. This time it was on Christmas day. I saw her sitting outside my son's bedroom window during a very cold winter's day. I just happened to enter his room to put some things away and glanced outside. She gave me the feeling that all was well as she sat on a tree branch calmly puffed up for warmth amidst the freshly fallen snow. She gave me a sense of immense peace and hope that day.

Mourning Dove on Christmas Day.

Mourning Dove on Christmas Day.

I know now that Mourning Dove in the Dark came to tell me that my life would be changing and that now it is time to write my story on her behalf and this planet. Most of my life I think I have been in mourning for the loss of my true self and my inability to be authentic so early on in life, as well as all the chaos of so many years of learning to remember who I am. Now I grieve for this planet in so many ways, but more than ever I recognize the importance of being authentic in this world. The creatures of the Earth have been such a huge part of my path, always communicating their messages to me, even if I didn't always understand their meaning until much later.

Mourning Dove is a constant reminder to sing a new song for myself and this Earth-- one of wisdom, hope, creativity and peace.  Perhaps she is a more powerful ally than I could ever have imagined. Mourning Dove has come to mean so many things to me. A few days ago a pair of doves sat feeding beneath my Black Locust tree I had named Jupiter. I'd like to believe Mourning Dove has come to remind me of the magic of unexpected gifts and synchronicities when you least expect them. Jupiter is, after all, the planet of blessings. It falls in line with my dream...

 

2018 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

 

The Space Inbetween

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I'm in the space of inbetween-- deconstructing and learning from the past, while creating the vision for something new. It is not an easy place to be. It requires faith and an aspect of letting go which is sometimes difficult when nothing intended is manifesting in the material world-- just yet. I've been in this space before, but now I have so many more spiritual tools to work with now. I also have the knowledge and experience that the universe works in mysterious ways often bringing you something that is quite unexpected. I have seen this over and over in my life even with the best laid intentions. Sacred timing is the greatest part of this equation.

I spent a great deal of time at the end of last year getting clear about where I needed to focus my efforts. There were strong astrological aspects around the new year particularly in my own chart with a Saturn return in my 6th house that takes 29 years to reappear. It was the end of one cycle of my life and the beginning of a new one. It was clear that I needed to create a new foundation for my life and begin making plans. While walking in the woods one day, a Beaver had appeared in the unfrozen portion of the creek that runs alongside the woods.

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I was reminded of how industrious these creatures are and their power to transform a landscape tree by tree creating an entirely different environment as a result. I knew his appearance was a powerful message for me to take things one step at a time and know that something special was underway. Beaver had appeared earlier that summer with just a portion of his head visible gliding through the still waters. Now he was here again-- this time fully visible. Beaver reminded me that creating and transforming is, after all, what I do best.

There is a time to make plans and act, and a time to wait. Everything in the universe is a matter of timing. I need to just be still and allow this space of inbetween and unknowing to exist for a while. I need to be okay with it until I receive clear guidance. Winter is, after all, a time to rest and wait for the return of life and beauty to the barren landscape. Sometimes just being is the hardest part, but my voice has gone out to the winds and my intentions have been made clear. Now I just need to allow what I desire to reveal itself through the next step of my journey.

 

2018 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Persephone's Hive

A view of Hope's Garden, a naturalized garden filled with wildflowers that was once mowed lawn and former wetland where many trees were dying. In the distance, the former location of my hives behind my beekeeping gardening studio.

A view of Hope's Garden, a naturalized garden filled with wildflowers that was once mowed lawn and former wetland where many trees were dying. In the distance, the former location of my hives behind my beekeeping gardening studio.

My new hive of honeybees arrived in the middle of the night during the new moon in Libra. It had been a disappointing summer for me with my bees. The one hive that had remained from last year, after my stronger hive disappeared completely one day, had survived an unusually warm and wet winter. I was thrilled when I saw in the spring that they were still alive and active. However, as the warmer weather arrived and I opened the hive, I saw that it was all full of mold and that most of the bees had eventually died leaving only a a small group of loyal bees surrounding their Queen. I almost didn't see her as I opened the hive, but there she was having fallen to the ground. I named her Milagro, Spanish for miracle.

I carefully placed the enduring Queen in a new hive box with the remaining bees. The box had to be located right where the other one had been because otherwise the bees would not find the hive. I knew that I had made a mistake in placing this hive behind my studio shed given all the wetness in the hive and the loss of so many bees. Despite being elevated and insulated from the wet land where there was an underground spring, the dampness had permeated all parts of the hive. I had to find a new location but I couldn't move this hive to a sunnier area on my property. I had to leave that up to them.

I decided to place an empty hive box in a sunny area right in the center of a six-sided mandala garden I had originally created when we first moved to the property. Interestingly the six sides correspond to the shape of the honeycomb, something I wasn't really thinking about when I originally created it. Little did I know at the time that this garden would eventually surround one of my bee hives. Much to my surprise, my bees did eventually swarm to this empty box. I even saw the magic of that day as all the bees swarmed round and round the gardens above their new home. It was an incredible moment. A few days later, I saw a new Queen outside the hive box, something she only does when she mates. I knew the old Queen had died. It was both sad to know the Queen that had survived beyond all odds had passed shortly after taking one last flight of freedom (she remains almost her entire life inside the hive laying eggs) to arrive in her new home and yet it was also exciting to know a new one had been born.

Sadly, this new Queen and her bees only stayed a few weeks before they swarmed once again. It was that kind of year. It seemed the bees were searching for something. What it was, I may never know, but it seemed to reflect the uncertainty within my own life and the swirling of activities around the world, whether they were natural disasters or human caused activities.  Somehow I sensed that they were telling me a phase of my own life was coming to an end. The next few days I felt the terrible silence in my gardens. It became very noticeable as there seemed to be no bees of any kind anywhere on my property, not even bumblebees. I began to question whether some aerial spraying had been done somewhere. The fear began to set in as I began to feel that all these years of creating a wildlife sanctuary had been for nothing and that possibly something awful was happening in my area to make all the bees disappear.. 

My fear prompted a conversation with one of my shamanic teachers who suggested I communicate with the Spirit of the Land to determine what was going on. As a result I journeyed and did a subsequent offering to the land of fruits and granola to honor the Insect Kingdom. Almost immediately the next day a new swarm made her home in my empty box once again and the same day, a friend told me that he had also caught a swarm for me. The arrival of these new bees coincided with major flooding in our area of a nearby creek. My joy was to be short-lived, however, when a few days later this new swarm disappeared also and eventually my friend's swarm did too. That's when I began to give careful consideration to whether I would continue beekeeping at all. Nevertheless, I could not ignore how quickly the Insect Kingdom had responded to my communication and offering. Our co-creative relationship had been profoundly renewed.

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Eventually bumblebees and other wild bees returned but I still missed having a hive of my own but I saw how quickly I could move into fear and think the worst. I knew in my heart that despite what I might see around me, I needed to maintain my focus and trust all the work that I had done. My land had become a sanctuary for all lifeforms, a haven where wild bees could nectar endlessly and even wasps were respected. Despite what I might see temporarily, I needed to have faith in the natural world around me.

Some time had passed when my friend told me his nephew had caught another swarm for me, but I had mixed emotions. It was very late in the summer and the bees would not have much time to build their hive and store their honey. He mentioned that his nephew could continue feeding the bees and keep them over winter. Somehow this idea didn't sit right with me. I felt that either they should remain with his nephew or I should have them. It was shortly before the Autumn Equinox that I decided this new swarm should be here. After all, I had loads of late blooming flowers on my property that would help them and also some empty frames that still had honey on them. I would do my best to strengthen them and take the chance.

After the bees arrived one night, I stood before the hive as they fanned themselves from the heat of the trip. Several bees flew onto my clothes as I held the flashlight. They were sensing me and their new home, but then I became a bit nervous. One bee eventually found her way inside my sweatshirt sleeve and stung me. The sting, however, never produced a reaction in me, as though our energies were already aligned. I found their energy to be very gentle yet strong and somehow I sensed this new Queen and hive were already in resonance with me. I felt hopeful once more that they had arrived for a reason.

I named this new hive after the goddess of the underworld, Persephone. These bees had arrived late in the year and in the dark of night. They would spend much of their time inside the darkness of their hive before they experienced their first spring on my land. Persephone is the daughter of Demeter who was fated to spend part of her life in the underworld but in the spring she brings forth the flowering of the meadows. The archetype of this goddess is one I resonate with and somehow I felt these new bees represented the energy of rebirth on my land and in my life.

Several months have passed since Queen Persephone arrived. I have continued learning from these bees particularly about how to let go and just go with the flow. She has taught me about my own inner shadow and how quickly my thoughts can move to fear and worry. Several times this fear would creep up quickly as I became angry about mistakes I had made which occasionally caused the loss of some of my worker bees. Usually this coincided with other things that troubled my mind. I also worried the bees would have enough honey stores built up for the winter and whether they would survive.

So far we have had a very warm autumn and the bees have been out periodically. I have occasionally fed them raw honey and comb that I had left from my other hive. Feeding sugared water, as is commonly done, was not an option for me. The bees have always been grateful for the honey I have given them and as time went on, I realized that I had no control over whether they would survive. It was all up to them. I could only do my best. Those times where I made mistakes were learning lessons for me about the bees and working with my own emotions that surfaced. I know that all is well. Queen Persephone is yet another teacher and grace has fallen upon my land.

 

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

 

 

A Stag Appears

Source: unknown

Source: unknown

Animals have always appeared to me at turning points in my life, particularly deer. More than 20 years ago, my first story was published about an injured doe that had crossed my path. I was on my way driving to a creative writing class. The anguish I felt that day when the deer had to be shot by law enforcement was poured into my first class project. The support I received in class prompted me to submit my story to the city newspaper and I became elated when I received the call that it was to be published. For the first time I saw myself as the writer I had always been. I had many more experiences with deer over the years, some inspired me to write and others just remain etched in my heart.

Last week another deer appeared to me and I knew something was about to change in my life. I was driving to the post office shortly before 9 am passing by St. Mary's on the Hill in the town where I live. It was a cloudy day. Despite living in Lancaster for over 7 years, I had only recently found out about this church and visited its surrounding landscape. There was something sacred about this landscape which I felt from the moment I saw it. Records indicate it had once been all forested land. The feeling was something ancient and primordial which went well beyond what man had created in the last few hundred years. The hilly landscape was also unusual for an otherwise flat town.

As I drove alongside the perimeters of the church that morning, a young stag appeared with his beautiful crown of horns. I stopped my car. He looked directly at me sensing whether or not he was safe, and then made his way across the road searching for a more safe haven. In that moment as his eyes met mine, I felt this deep sense of heartfelt connection and I knew something was about to happen in my life. On my return drive, I had to once again pass the boundaries of St. Mary's and the hillside landscape. The sky was dark that morning, but suddenly the sun appeared in all its glory through an opening where the clouds had briefly parted. The glow of the sun cast its light directly upon St. Mary's church and in that moment I felt an immense feeling of grace that I cannot really put into words. Then the sun disappeared, as I continued on my way.

Source: unknown

Source: unknown

I knew that magic had just happened. It was enough to have me inspired the rest of the day as I thought about what it all meant. I knew that something was about to occur in my life-- something life altering. It was just a matter of time. The animal signposts had been there throughout my life. Later I came to find out that the Assumption of Mary, after which this church is named, is the time when Mary ascended to the heavens from her earthly realm and it is celebrated on August 15th, the same day as my birth. It was another synchronicity, but what did it all mean?

Three days later I received news that stunned me, eliminating something from my life that I had only recently begun to rely upon. It was clear I was not meant to follow in this direction. It was a betrayal among people I didn't really know, an end of a path that was not meant to be. There had been no explanation, no reasoning offered, though I felt certain that maintaining my boundaries and speaking my truth had contributed to the end. There had been constant insights in conversations, symbols from my helping spirits that were meaningful to me, but I had not heeded the warnings. I chose to see the best in others and not necessarily the reality of a very dysfunctional system that was doomed to implode upon itself. I had offered my services for a short while. My work was done.

The stag has long been a symbol of Christ with its antlers reaching up and bringing light down from the heavens. It is also known to be an enemy of snakes, stamping out darkness. I cannot think of a more appropriate symbol to receive three days prior to the truth being revealed to me. Each year the stag sheds its horns symbolizing a cycle complete and a shedding of the past. Sometimes people don't like when your light shines too bright and you speak the truth because it causes them to look at their own lies and inadequacies. In time I know that the next part of my journey will be revealed to me. I have faith in the Stag's appearance. My Spirit has once again been renewed.

 

 

Copyright 2017 Clarissa Harison/Awen Environments. 

All photos: Source unknown.

 

 

Keyna the Brilliant Jewel

Keyna was one of three sisters that I rescued from a high kill shelter in Brownsville, TX. All three had been abandoned by a woman who gave permission for their euthanasia. They were probably leftovers from a puppy mill breeder as the woman was not interested in any more females. I will never know the whole story. Luckily a caring volunteer intervened at the right moment. They eventually made their way to Western New York to find new homes after weeks of sleepless nights. While I arranged everything, I also worried about finding the right transport for such a long distance and that time might run out to save them.

I had originally searched for a rescue dog for my son's birthday. This eventually led to considering a second dog for my mother when I found a picture posted of all three dogs on social media. However, I simply could not leave the third behind. Her name would be Keyna. At the shelter they had named her "Lovely" and that she truly was. I gave her the name Keyna because it means "jewel" in Welsh. The name suited her just fine as she truly was a diamond in the rough.

All three dogs were extremely unruly and skittish when they arrived. They were quite a handful and I quickly became overwhelmed by their high energy levels and lack of discipline. The dog I had intended for my mother was way too much for her, as were all the sisters, so I quickly realized I would have to find homes as soon as possible for two of them. Keyna was the most shy and anxious of the three so I had to place the other ones first, including the one that had been intended for us. It was not an easy decision.

As time went on I realized that although she had come a long way in social and obedience skills, Keyna's anxiety issues were not going away and they were linked to our suburban environment. Anything new and unknown intimidated her and yet she was confident and obedient off leash on our property. She acted like she had a job to do guarding all perimeters of our property and never venturing anywhere near our busy street and rarely straying over neighboring boundaries. There was no need for an electrical fence. Yet our walks in the nearby park even on the wooded trails often left me stressed out. On a leash, she repeatedly looked behind her as though something or someone were constantly lurking nearby. 

It was because of her inability to adjust to public spaces, that I kept trying to find a new home for Keyna in a more rural environment where she could feel more comfortable. It seemed that her stress levels were just increasing and because I am also highly sensitive, it added to my own stress. I had found potentially great homes for Keyna on two occasions. The first was a home in a very rural environment in the southern tier. The day of the home visit, a severely injured woodchuck crossed my path on the road to her potential home. I was helpless to do anything to alleviate its suffering despite being a wildlife rehabilitator, as the wounded animal ran off and buried itself in a hole. It nevertheless remained etched in my mind as a sign of this potential situation not being right and the couple we met commented that "there was always something going on" which left me feeling unsettled that day. There was something about that particular rural area that didn't feel right, as it had developed quite a reputation over the years for tragic things happening to these once Native American lands. Ultimately this potential home fell through when the woman never followed up after our meeting and in the end, I actually felt relieved.

About a year or so later someone contacted me from Canada wanting to know if I would consider an adoption in the Toronto area. I said yes for the right person and I would be willing to do the home visit despite the distance. While we initially met at a dog park in the city of Buffalo and everything else was going smoothly, the final home visit where I expected to leave Keyna with her new companion, also did not go so well. Upon our arrival, it was clear that this potential situation was nothing like what I had been told. The backyard photos were misleading and the home was way too small. The home was also located in an extremely busy suburban area that is similar to our city streets and the woman was clearly not as active as she had led me to believe. So despite an extremely disappointing and uncomfortable situation, Keyna came back home with us that day.

The years went by and while Keyna became a devoted and attentive member of our family, it was clear to me that this situation was not getting any better. Long periods of time would go by and I kept thinking she was adjusting, but she would quickly rebound during her walks in the park and become extremely anxious. I began to realize that the chronic stress which caused her to pant heavily and become skittish could eventually lead to long terms health issues if not resolved. So I made one last effort to place her. Initially nothing seemed to be happening. Just when I had pretty much resigned to believing that Keyna was going to remain with us permanently and we unexpectedly adopted a second shelter dog, an opportunity presented itself.

I received a call from a couple who were looking for a dog just like Keyna. They had a home in a rural area of the Finger Lakes on top of a mountain with 55 acres of land and two ponds. They both worked out of their home, although the woman had largely retired and was looking for a companion to accompany her during her daily activities. Over the course of several weeks we got to know one another better and it seemed this would be an ideal situation for Keyna. I was thrilled. A visit to their beautiful, secluded mountainside home confirmed my feelings. Yet despite this perfect home that had finally appeared for Keyna after almost 5 years, it was with great difficulty and sadness that we gave her up.

I have received periodic reports on Keyna's progress which inevitably validated for me how this very difficult decision was undoubtedly in her best interest. I think a part of me always knew Keyna would be leaving, but there is no doubt in my mind that she was meant to be saved that day, the sister who would have been left behind. On Earth Day, April 22nd would have been 5 years since all three sisters first arrived. Looking back, I don't think I would have done things any differently. Throughout the years Keyna taught me about my own sensitivities and how easily I become stressed. She mirrored to me my own instinctive behavior, intuition and my keen awareness of my surroundings. 

As the months have gone by, I have heard about how well Keyna is doing as she listens to her new female companion and never strays far despite the vast expanse of her new territory. It is as if all along I had been grooming her for the perfect behavior for such a home. She now loves swimming in her ponds and exploring her new territory, always careful to sense this new environment that holds a myriad of new adventures with someone who is completely attentive to her needs and well being. The situation is so much more than I could have imagined for her and only in my own selfishness, could I not have allowed this transition to take place. Animals often come into your life for a reason eventually moving on just like people do. I've realized now how timing in life is everything. Sometimes a brilliant jewel must go through quite a process before it can shine. It seems appropriate I honor Keyna on this Beltane, a day of celebration and new beginnings.

 

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Little Things

I have always collected little things. I guess because I knew at some level that "God is in the details" as a teacher once told me. Science has shown us that we live in an amazing universe where even the tiniest of beings are comprised of incredible complexities of sacred geometry. The patterns that we see around us are reflections of the patterns in our brain and within all the tiny cells that make up our bodies. We also know that all things including inanimate objects are essentially alive with energy.

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
~Camille Pisarro

A few years ago I made a purchase at the store of a beautiful cathedral in Buffalo, NY called the Our Lady of Victory Basilica. I periodically go there to light a candle and say prayers when I'm feeling called to ask for help beyond the daily guidance I receive. It was my first time in the lower level shop. That day I found a beautiful metal dog tag which invoked the blessings and protection of St. Francis, the protector of all creatures. I kept it for years, but it wasn't until our pit bull Dawson arrived, that I felt he was the dog it was meant for. I attached it to his collar shortly after his arrival from the Buffalo Animal Shelter.

A few weeks ago I suddenly noticed that Dawson was only wearing two tags. The third one of St. Francis was missing. I was so disappointed. Of all the ones to lose, it had to be this one. I knew I had seen it on him the previous day. I thought perhaps we had lost it during our last walk in the nearby park. So that day I took the very same route and began looking on the ground everywhere for it, but to no avail. It was nowhere to be found.

Somehow I just felt intuitively that tag would return to us because of the significance it held. That night I told my higher self that I would like the tag returned to us, wherever it might be. The very next morning as I took Dawson outside to do his business, having forgotten all about the previous day, I suddenly looked down on the ground of our expansive backyard and there gleaming in the grass was the St. Francis metal. I was astounded to say the least. What are the chances of recovering an item the size of a quarter on 3/4 acre of land?

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Daffodil in a Foreign Land

Planted in the earth of a foreign soil
you have been uprooted.
You know not where they are sending you.
You have lost part of your identity
in this unfamiliar land.

Your roots and your memories lie
in the place of your origins
though you know you must adapt
in order to survive.
Your spirit is strong and your beauty radiant.
It needs to be in order to endure and flourish.

Your body is poison to those who
delve too deep and take a bite.
It is sacred, mysterious and forbidden
though some have sought to calm
their torment with your bitterness.
Best just to admire your beauty from a distance.
And yet the land knows how you
heal the soil with your poison.

You have bloomed this spring as you have done before.
But this time your beauty has been diminished
while you lie wilted upon the ground
from the extreme cold of this place
where you find yourself.

Deep inside you know your strength,
from some long forgotten memory.
You know this land only makes you wiser.
Your beauty this year goes unseen
but your roots, your body, grown stronger.
It is your poison, that is your saving grace.
~ Clarissa Harison

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison. 

Angels in the Clouds

Sometimes it is difficult to find inspiration in a chaotic and changing world when systems are collapsing and Pandora's Box of darkness has been spilled open unto the world. And yet, there is always inspiration to find in Nature and sometimes just when you need it, Angels or representatives of the Spirit World will make themselves known. A recent walk provided me with exactly that inspiration. I was filled with a deep sense of knowing that this material world and what we see before us, is not all there is nor what can be.

I was walking with my dog Dawson through a nearby park on a crisp, sunny day that made me feel that spring was just around the corner despite the cold and bleak days that were repeatedly interspersed amidst the occasional warmth. As I focused on the glorious sun that was shining, I could feel a sense of the Spirit World reminding me that I am not alone and that there is always Divine Grace. Sometimes you really do need a reminder when all you hear is news of chaos and uncertainty and nothing really seems to be optimistic.

That day I could see the orbs of light emanating from the sun and suddenly a rainbow of light appeared amidst the clouds. Initially I had been drawn to the billowy nature of the clouds that swept across the air like the wings of a bird caressing the blue sky. It was such a feeling of the Divine in that moment and I knew I was being watched over. I knew that something beyond this landscape of barrenness and sadness, was also hope and guidance from the realm of Spirit. I knew that I was not alone. My heart swelled with love and joy in that moment.

As I continued to focus on the rays of the sun streaming down and the multicolored orbs of light that cascaded toward me, they seemed to dance in a language of light that I wished that I could understand. It was a silent communication emanating from the highest realms. It was a language I could only understand with my heart. It was a language I wished I could interpret in words, but I could not. I could only feel. And in that moment, it was enough. Enough to fill me with hope. Enough to let me know that we are dreaming a new world into being and there are those who have a vested interest in the success of our creations.

It has happened to me before on my walks, this seeing of light language dancing in the rays of the sun. The best I can explain it is that it looks like the Arabic or Persian language. Today the modern Persian language is called Farsi and what I have seen strikingly resembles both of these alphabets. Unfortunately I experience this dancing light so quickly, it is difficult to write anything down and I generally don't have a notebook with me on my walks, however I doubt a photo would capture what I see.

The very first time I saw this light language was on Easter Day, March 27th, 2016. Now as I write, I recognize the synchronicity of my inspiration to write today, one year and 4 days later about another experience.  I remember vividly feeling that I was receiving healing frequencies from the sun at that time that were affecting my entire body and spirit. I could see the rays oscillating in waves to form designs similar to these ancient languages and I wanted to understand what they were telling me.

A need to know more caused me to speak to an Iranian woman I know about my experience. Although she is very spiritual and spoke Farsi having grown up in Iran, she had never experienced anything similar. We did have an interesting conversation though about symbols at the time. She said that in her culture and many other ancient civilizations, symbols were placed in architecture, rugs and poetry because of their association with the Divine and the world of Spirit. She said that "the ancients accessed the inner worlds through symbolism and Arabic was considered the language of God, as were most of the ancient languages, perhaps originating as symbols of communication of the inner world and the outer world." She also told me that somewhere in my soul, I understood the language that was spoken to me that day. She mentioned that the ancient Persian ceremonies were filled with symbolism, all meant to connect and draw certain energies from the inner world. In her words, "You know the soulful qualities of the inner world cannot be expressed in words or mentally. They have to be expressed through symbolism."

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There is so much to be learned from the ancient civilizations, information that will help us to restore the sacred to our lives and help this transforming world we now live in. I love that just when I least expect it, a piece of the puzzle is thrown my way and I am once again filled with a renewed sense of inspiration and hope.

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison. Duplication of photos or writing not permitted without express written permission.