I am a 59 year old mother of 3 daughters and grandmother to 4 gorgeous grandchildren. I am a Psychodramatist, Teacher with the School of Shamanic Womancraft and long time Occupational Therapist. The Blue Mountains west of Sydney Australia is my home, which I share with my beloved partner, assorted wildlife and many sacred trees.
Have you ever had the feeling of being so excited to step out there and be seen, and then afterward you crash with thoughts like “oh dear, there’s too much of me, I am too vulnerable, what will people think”?
In groupwork theory it’s the finely tuned balance between disturbing motive and reactive fear – what pushes you forward and what holds you back. Some of us are forever oscillating on the edge, sitting on the edge of our chair. My psychodrama teacher, Max Clayton, would say this is the perfect position from which to do the work. Often that is the position people are in when they start counselling. Some of us (like me with my recent photo shoot) go with the disturbing motive and then sit with the feeling of (oh no) exposure and judgement (mostly my own!)
At this Full Moon time of peak energy and blooming, I offer one of the photos from this shoot. It was a magical day.
You might know the feeling when a bright memory from your past drops in to visit. This morning when I was sitting with my journal, there was a moment when I had a crystal clear memory of being on the Sacred Isle of Iona. Iona is a magical (and very small) island off the west coast of Scotland. I was a part of a residential workshop there back in 2014 with the wonderful Kathy Jones of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.
I heard these words during a time of silence and meditation: “I am a Teacher, I am a Healer, I am a Wayshower.” These words have been my touchstone ever since. And nudge me gently to keep sharing my work.
Have you ever heard the words of your calling/purpose?
Last week I was walking along Cronulla Beach. Right on the edge, where the water rushes up sometimes as high as my knees, and we walk a little more briskly to save from getting our clothes wet. The tide wasn’t especially high and the ocean not especially wild. Fully clothed, hat and sun glasses, shoes in hand. Ambling to breakfast at the café at Wanda Beach.
This place is home to me – I grew up here, and although never a bikini clad beach babe (as in Puberty Blues) I have a long love affair with the ocean.
On this particular morning, at a certain point, some confluence of the ocean currents managed to create a whopping great wave-only about one metre wide and taller than me-and I didn’t see it coming.
Living with aware consciousness means being alert to the cyclic phases that are pertinent to you in any one moment and being conscious of the choices made in that moment.
Do you know:
When is the time for planting and nurturing the seeds of creativity or creating intentions and plans for those intentions to come alive? Spring – 3am-9am, New and waxing Moon, Days 3-9 of the menstrual cycle, Maiden time: 0-25 years old.
When is the time for holding the space for the growth of your seeds and intentions and celebrating the fullness of their reality? Summer – 9am to 3pm, Full Moon, Days 10-16 of the menstrual cycle, Mother Time: 26-50 years old.
When is the time for harvesting the riches of the cycle, for examining their worth, for sharing in community Autumn – 3pm-9pm, Waning Moon, Days 17-24 of the menstrual cycle, Maga time: 51-75 years old.
When is the time for letting go? For rest and completions? For endings? This is the time when the ground is prepared for the next cycle- the letting go, the bones, become the mulch for the next plantings. Winter, Dark Moon/New Moon, Days 25-2 of the Menstrual Cycle, Crone Time: 76-100 years old)
If we do not live with the cycles consciously, they happen anyway
“The shadow is everything about ourselves that we refuse to know or do not know, dark and light.”
David Richo- Shadow Dance
At the age of 54, when I joined the School of Shamanic Womancraft – first as student, then apprentice and now teacher, the Wisdom of the Cycles became integral in how I lived my life. As a woman in the last months of my menstrual cycle at 54, I had lost the opportunity to integrate the living wisdom into that particular cycle. The diurnal (solar), lunar (moon), seasonal and life phase cycles have had riches of wisdom to offer in my personal life and in my work.
I understand that if I do not live with the cycles consciously, they happen anyway-the wheel keeps turning. What I have come to know in my work as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist is that far too often, the cyclic consciousness is suppressed, stuck, or wounded. Our responses become Shadows which we do not or feel we can’t know. Pushed aside, these shadows can often lead us in an unconscious and painful dance.
Whilst the teaching of Cyclic Wisdom is central, it is also critical to recognise and call home the shadows that are often created by this suppression, stuckness and wounding
Mental health issues are often linked to a shadow wound
In Western medicine these “shadows” become diagnostic labels which are most often treated with medication: the effect of which is to suppress even further the psyche’s response. (A note: I am not anti-medication for mental health as such-sometimes it is a necessary and life saving/life enhancing gift of western medicine). However, in working with the cycles, I have noticed that mental health issues are often linked to a Shadow wound at certain times of the life cycle:
In the maiden time-the Shadow wound is often to a person’s sense of identity and might result in personality disorders
In Mother time-the Shadow wound appears to be in relationships and sexuality
In Maga time-the Shadow wound appears as disorders of mood, for example depression and anxiety.
In Crone time-the Shadow wound appears as fear of letting go, fear of death, undealt with grief.
In the Centre of the wheel is Trauma-Which occurs often and is often relegated to the Shadowlands.
Shadow wounds or issues might occur at any time
You might raise quite a sweat trying welcome home your exiled shadows, or you might find loving assistance and support makes all the difference.
My upcoming workshop on Shadow Cycles
If you are interested in learning more about Shadow Cycles and mental health, join me in the Shadow Cycles series of workshops (all online currently), beginning with an introduction on 12th March and commencing the teachings of the Cycles and Shadow Cycles from Samhain in May.
There will be learning about the Cycles, the Shadow Cycles and approaches for integration. The workshops will involve personal work with your own Shadowlands, and will also be useful to broaden your skills if you work in the field of Mental health in a professional capacity.
Regardless of your purpose for attending, be prepared to dive deep and connect with your own Shadows, and be aware that you will be in a safe, confidential container of a group of like minded women.
On the cusp of the new calendar year, I find myself deeply resting. There is a sense in me of deep need for rest. Preparing for the wheel of time to keep turning.
I have been contemplating David Whyte’s poem “The House of Belonging” (this is an excerpt- the full poem is at the end of this blog):
“This is the bright home in which I live, this is where I ask my friends to come, this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love.
This is the temple of my adult aloneness and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life.
There is no house like the house of belonging.”
For a long time I felt I did not belong on this land of Australia.
I belonged with my family – a very large and noisy family – who live here. I was born here. But I always felt drawn to the land of Ireland. And it’s true that I do feel most at home there – spiritually – and “in my skin”- in a way that has been so hard to find here in Australia.
I realise that the bones of my ancestors are not here. The layers of earth under my feet do not contain them. And yet my home is created here. The bright cords of my heart’s love are here. My parents, my siblings, my children and grandchildren and my beloved partner.
Here in these mountains “is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love.” I am here. It is now, and “there is no house like the house of belonging.”
At the end of the Calendar year and moving into 2021, may you find your house of belonging, and may the year to come hold love and many dreams-come-true.
Although I have trained in many psychotherapeutic modalities since the 1980s, over all that time, the modality I kept going back to was Psychodrama.
Psychodrama is a group psychotherapy action method which was developed by Dr Jacob Levy Moreno (1889-1974) last century. The method is also used in one-to-one and relationship therapy these days. Psychodrama is also a developmental theory comprising of a theory of personality and development, called role theory. It is a sociological theory comprising of the science of sociometry: the measurement of relationships and connection in groups and community.
The reasons I love psychodrama in particular and why I chose to train as a psychodramatist (which took 12 quite intense years) are many.
– It’s ALL about relationships –It involves engagement and development of thinking, feeling and action (the 3 components of role), which few other psychotherapies do. –Creativity and Spontaneity are the cornerstones of psychodrama –It works
A note on the length of training: I completed my training (through AANZPA) relatively quickly. The training is not comparable to other education systems. It is based on role development, and progression through the training is driven by the trainee to a large extent. It also involves extensive personal development work. That is, my thesis and practical assessments were done only when my roles had developed adequately for me to step forward and say I was ready.
Here is a quote I love from Zerka Moreno (in “The Quintessential Zerka” p.43). (She was J.L.Moreno’s wife)
“Moreno’s vision was so comprehensive. With him, one worked all the time because life was constantly presenting itself to us. Everything was about relationships-ours to each other, extending to our near and far social atoms.”
Have you ever wondered Where in your body Or perhaps your mind Is tucked away The Cave of Shadows? And if the Keeper of the Cave (a fierce warrior by all accounts) Would allow you in (or perhaps let them out) Who or what might these shadows be? Yours You
There might be a tuneful singer Who comes warily to the cave entrance And suddenly shouts in retreat “But I cannot sing!” And as you lie in the softness of dreams You hear your own beautiful voice of song as it drifts from some dark cranny at the back of the Cave.
And here are the terrified/terrorised and angry ones. The Keeper takes special care that they remain inside They are small. Tiny and mis-shapen They have the sneakiest ways of escape And when they get past the ever-vigilant Keeper of the Cave (because they can) They grow Like a stain of ink in water.
Have you ever wondered who or what Lives in your Cave of Shadows And have you met the Keeper of the Cave? Yet.
The Cave of Shadows is the residence somewhere within your psyche and body of all those disowned, disavowed roles in you. They reside – pushed into the dark as things that are fear full or provocative or unacceptable somehow.
A cordial meeting with the Keeper of the Cave is a necessary venture if you wish to become intimate with the unconscious in your life. It is the work of a lifetime to bring the shadows of the unconscious into consciousness. Only then will we have a choice.
Here in the southern hemisphere Beltaine came last week (8th November) and we are still glowing in its’ aftermath – we are heading fast toward summer time. Last year we had horrendous bush fires, however it seems much damper this year in the Blue Mountains.
I spent a wonderful 5 days off grid with my oldest friend Annie during this past lunar cycle. We have been friends since I was 11 and she was 12. There is such extraordinary value and pleasure in being with someone who has a long and close connection. Nourishment – which is one of my ongoing commitments to myself.
How are you? I’ve been working on organising and streamlining my business recently to bring further order and balance to my life-including a commitment to a regular newsletter, I’m thinking about once a month, so do look out for them.
You might have noticed the picture of the sculpture (The Age of Maturity) at the top of my Psychodrama webpage (and above, here). Quintessential Longing. It was quite difficult to find a picture, but I love the yearning in Camille Claudel’s (1864-1943) work. The soul-full faces and bodies. The movement. My favourite is La Valse (below).
Have you heard of Camille Claudel? She was a lover of Auguste Rodin (he of “The Kiss’ (below) and “The Thinker”)- She was his Muse
I have read a lot (not recently though, so be warned that what I write is shaped by the peculiar prisms of my memory) about both Rodin and Claudel. I have been to Paris many times now and my favourite museum has always been the Musee Rodin. I know that Claudel had deep longings and passions. I know that they said she was mad and imprisoned her in an insane asylum (apparently an all to frequent residence for passionate women back then). She loved Rodin and she learnt from him (and he from her). She was his Muse (perhaps he was hers) and he rejected her. She longed for him. By all accounts he was cruel to her. Undoubtedly she suffered.
So then I wondered……. what is a Muse… and who or what is mine? Am I rejecting of her, cruel in my not listening to her? Having recently been encouraged by the wonderful writer Geneen Marie Haugen (more on Geneen in another post) to apprentice to my Muse, I have begun this exploration.
I glanced at her and took my glasses off- they were still singing. They buzzed like a locust on the coffee table and then ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and knew that nails up there took a new grip on whatever they touched. “I am your own way of looking at things,” she said. “When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand. (When I met My Muse by William Stafford)
“I am your own way of looking at things”…. WILL you allow me to live with you? This is my Longing and my Question. I know the answer to be YES.
This is where Psychodrama takes me as I follow my Longing.