Reawakening the Spirit

I am Willow: a Piece of Hope


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.

Clearing Clutter for New Dreams

Clutter never used to be an issue for me. I am extremely organized by nature and very methodical in how I work. Nevertheless, the birth of my son, years of challenge and transformation and ultimately the death of my parents put a new spin on things. I found myself having difficulties throwing things away or even donating. Once you recognize that everything that exists on this planet has energy and memory, you begin to look at things differently and the detachment that once existed changes.

I know there are numerous methods to clear clutter and organize one's home but how many of these methods actually address the issue of our throw away society and materialism on this planet? How many address the underlying reason why we find ourselves with clutter in the first place? How many experts really address the need to respect and honor those things that we treasure or hold on to without explanation? It is true that we cannot take material things with us into the afterlife, but what about cherishing and finding better use for the things that we have?


As someone well versed in the energy of space, I found myself really questioning the foundations for the principles that I have learned. I realize I'm somewhere in the middle with regard to creating a free flowing organized home and surrounding myself with things that I love and recognize for their potential use. How do we surround ourselves with that which we love and yet honor all that which has come into our life and not contribute to more debris in dumpsites? How do we find value in something that someone has toiled hard on and yet received little or no pay nor gratitude for? How do we bring the sacred into everything that we surround our self with and minimize the consumerism and materialism that is rampant in our society?

My parents taught me to take care of the quality things which they purchased. Both of them repaired and reused countless objects in a myriad of ways. My father had been born into affluence that suddenly one day was taken away from his family amidst devastating political upheaval in his country and my mother had experienced the loss of her home, loved ones and belongings due to war. You cherish and learn to be grateful for what you have with memories like that. Since my parents have passed, I find it difficult to let go of things they held dear because it is a connection to the memories of my childhood and to them, as well as my ancestors. I simply cannot discard their belongings so easily. Given what I now know, how do you integrate these things and yet streamline your home so that it is most efficient, organized and the energy flows freely? This is a topic that I need to make peace with.

I just finished reading Marie Kondo's little jewel of a book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" and I've been inspired. Although I find some of her methods a bit too drastic and difficult for me to follow all at once as she suggests, I nevertheless agree with her philosophy that you should only surround yourself with things that you love. Marie sees the sacred purpose in each and every object and believes that objects love to be loved. Neglect is is a big energy drainer for objects in your home. The more you love something, the more that love is reflected back to you and energizes you. Picking up each and every item in your home and deciding whether you love it or find it to be useful, is the foundation for her approach and something I learned from a teacher many years ago. Marie reminded me of how important this key philosophy is in creating a home that is sacred and supportive.

So I've begun to apply some of her organizing principles to my own home and I've already noticed the difference. By organizing my dresser drawers for instance, in a way that I can visually see everything in it, as opposed to stacking, it is so much more functional and visually appealing. It is amazing how different it makes me feel when I get ready. Just this new approach has inspired me to continue working my way through my books and the rest of my home. I know that I have a huge task ahead of me, but if just small changes can make such a difference in how I feel, imagine how completing an entire home will affect my mindset. 


2018 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.