Growing pains

Growing pains

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Lots of em. One step forward, two steps back. Will I ever learn?

I know I shouldn’t let my emotions run away with me, and yet that is exactly what I keep doing. Which is not so bad when they are good but… Well, you get my point. That centre just keeps getting away from me.

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And yet… when I look back at who I was almost nine years ago, I find her hardly recognisable. It seems impossible that I was ever this cocky. I keep asking myself: How did I manage to think that I knew so much (which I did, by the way, and do) when I knew so very little (and keep knowing less as I grow older, it seems to me)?

I feel both more in control and less. A little the wiser, I hope, and a lot of illusions the poorer. Still teetering on the edge of cynicism, although I keep scrambling away from it. Is there bravery in refusing to give in, or is it sheer stubborn stupidity? A bit of both, I suppose.

What I do know is that the world will only change if enough of us refuse to become cynics. If enough of us continue dreaming, fighting, rebelling… being naive and seeking to meld together the wisdom of the past with the knowledge that our species gathers so very eagerly.

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And so I continue to seek out the Light.

As the days are darkening and the summer in which I went through another transition stretches into fall, I stride — or perhaps I should say ‘stumble’ — forward, feeling both as confused and as certain as ever (and perhaps more), but holding on just a little more securely to who I am.

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Yeah, right.

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Good Medicine

This.

Umber Dove Good Medicine

An older piece by Umber Dove, who always manages to touch the essence. Whose spirit sparkles even from afar, perceived through the distant aether.

I found this when leafing through her blog, heartache and all, wishing I could wear one of her magical rings on every finger.

Is it possible to fall in love with someone through what she makes and writes? Apparently so, because I have. Just so you know: Kelly, I love you!

Find her on Facebook here.

Eleven Moons and Counting My Blessings

It has been a crazy busy year – and in busy times, things just have to go. It seems the blog has been one of the things to go in recent years although it keeps murmuring softly at the edge of my vision, calling me in.

So here I am. I don’t have many words right now. It’s the end of the day, the children are tired (as am I), soon I will have to start thinking about feeding the masses (French fries today, I think, not nutritionally responsible but so very easy)… but right now I have found a few minutes to let my fingers trickle some words, and randomly languish on some recent photos…

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I am still dyeing, that love is here to stay. This vintage silk skirt has become a favourite: dyed in iron-tinged onion skins before being printed with eucalyptus. Not so recently though, perhaps two years ago already? I still love the photo though. This was rolled in on itself before I discovered rolling on sticks and quite frankly the prints are the better for it. Adorned with silver moons, so appropriately as I have become closer to the Earth’s tides this year.

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I have also become obsessed with indigo… and only just realised that this Shibori tied print looks like two people back to back. Will I be able to find the cloth this is on again? I hope so as it is quite fascinating.

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This year I found feathers everywhere on my path… as if the universe were willing me to fly.

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We have had to let my dad go…

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Remembered…

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And I have counted my blessings, 1… 2… 3… with these most precious souls entrusted into my care, every day.

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Eleven moons into the year (this one above being October Hunter’s Moon), I am looking forward to the stillness of winter and the blessings of home.

With love to you,

Iris

Sky druidess 19-7-2015

‘Druidry is a huge sacrifice – giving up ignorance and opening our eyes to the world, seeing what we can do to make it a better place.’ (from ‘The Awen Alone’ by Joanna van der Hoeven)

I do not know that I would call myself a Druidess as I have always been wary of aligning with any one system of beliefs, but this resonates deeply within me. I have often felt that wanting to know the truth of this world and our place in it, and especially making it a better place for all creatures, involves sacrifice. Sacrifice of ignorance, resulting in a deep sense of loss and outrage at what mankind has done to its home in this universe. And sacrifice of entitlement and sometimes comfort as I take on responsibility for my place on this Earth and come to understand that I must tread lightly to honour and preserve her.

It means grieving for all that is being done in the name of progress, money and fashion. And trying to change these things by reducing, reusing and recycling, and by sharing with my immediate circle of family of friends what can – no what must – be done to ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy what has been given into our stewardship. And often that means giving something up, spending more time doing things or taking time to separate plastic, glass, electrical and paper waste and take it to the container, which in our current culture of convenience and perceived lack of time may feel like sacrifice.

It means seeing with different eyes (or is it rather a different spirit?) and being thankful, living with the Earth rather than battling and taking from her, and using what she provides freely instead of wresting it from her with violence. And if that makes me part Druidess, then that is what I shall be. As yesterday’s clouds seem to confirm, if you believe in signs ‘from above’ 😉

Evolution

White Light Studio myth

“I hope you don’t mind my introducing myself a little more. Artist, Bohemian, Dreamer, Bowerbird, Light Bearer, Mother, Believer in a better world – and not afraid to make sacrifices to get there. I have the privilege of earning a living as a translator and still enjoying the freedom to explore the things I love.

As I evolve on this Spirit path, I increasingly collect beautiful experiences and people rather than things – although my house and heart are filled with natural and man-made treasure, too. I had forgotten how to love this Spirit that animates and permeates everything we are and have, and everything we aspire to be. To my great joy, I am discovering that Spirit is all still there, whole and one, waiting for me, welcoming me back home.

My work as an artist – as a simple human being – celebrates Mother Earth in all her incarnations, seeking to share my joy at the simple fact of Being Alive. She is rich in myths and symbols, offering guidance and messages if you are willing to hear and see, to feel and experience, and to be.

I organise small gatherings to celebrate and honour Spirit near Amsterdam and would love to find kindred souls to share these occasions. Please feel free to PM me or comment below if you would like to join. I recently started sharing my work as well as information on classes and gatherings at https://www.facebook.com/whitelightstudioart as my Myth is coming together.”

As I wrote this to introduce myself to a group on Facebook, I realised how true is it. My Myth is coming together. I am becoming closer to who I really am. Artist, Bohemian, Dreamer, Light Bearer, Mother, Believer in a better world… Surely that better world is coming; I can see it all around.

And so, Myth & symbol are coming together. Snake, spiral, feather, light: Transformation & Light Bearer.

I will be offering classes come February. One to introduce you to the magic that is eco printing.These will be one-day classes covering the basic principles and philosophy of the art.

The other draws me upwards: Spirit Colour, an exploration of eco printing as a spiritual practice. In addition to one-day classes, there will be a Spirit Colour weekend at a beautiful old farm in the Netherlands, too. If the journey calls you, be welcome!

Time Keeps Flying…

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…but that’s okay because I’m not wasting it. My days are filled, sometimes to overflowing, but that’s okay too because it all belongs. And there is so much joy in my life, it fills my heart and my soul. And that, my friends, is the stuff happiness is made of.

My soul is firmly seated in my body once again, no longer trying to flee reality. Am I sounding like a mystic? Too bad, there’s nothing I can do about that. Be it shamanism, witchcraft, giftedness or new ageism – I am coming alive and feel like i’m more or less consistently in control for the first time in my life, regardless of external circumstances. Which is great, but also the tiniest bit scary because if I screw up, there is no one I can blame.

Apart from all this metaphysical wonderfulness, I have been knitting (a little), dyeing (a lot) and enjoying life with my children, family and friends. (Yes, and working, cleaning, ranging, running after children, doing the administration, dropping into bed exhausted and much more not so fun stuff – but that is part of life, too.)

Too much to share in a single post, of course, so I’ll conclude with a couple of pictures of roses, rose leaves, achillea, hydrangea, buddleia, maple and a sprinkling of iron on tussah silk wrapped around a copper pipe.

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Eco printing on dappled silk

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Oh, that glow!

So much for good intentions… Well at least you know the good intention was there to start with!

A quick post to show off a pre-loved silk shirt eco-dyed with eucalyptus, cochineal, geranium, alkanet flakes, rose leaves and what is probably a red-leafed Acer japonicum, although I have never seen such a big tree (easily 4 metres tall) here in the Netherlands.

All of it simmered in a dye bath made from Dutch-grown eucalyptus generously contributed by Mary from the Koala eucalyptus nursery in De Pol laced with iron liqueur, which turned a deep grey – almost black. Sadly, I never thought of dyeing some silk thread in that dye pot before it had to be discarded (because it developed an unpleasant odour that caused my family to complain loudly)…

The shirt had a dappled weave pattern, which makes for some lovely highlights in the dyed fabric. I may add some stitching and change the sleeves, which are too long. I’ll first need to figure out how, though.

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Out of the pot

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First indication of something lovely

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Opening up

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I ❤ eucalyptus and it loves me right back!

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Rorschach snake face

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Tie resist marks showing up beautifully

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Earthy pleasures

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Oh, the beauty of it,,,

 

What I have been up to

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Healing love sent out into the world

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The other side

Oh, there is just not enough time in my days! Yet I believe I have never put my days to better use than I do now… 

Rare is the day on which there is not a dye pot simmering on my stove, on which I do not take thread and needle to fabric, on which I do not put pen or brush to paper or find another way to express my soul-expanding joy at having unlocked the gate to my creativity and artistic expression. I had no idea how narrow my life had become until it opened up again.

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Boro stitching on denim, using Japanese sashiko thread and a piece of eucalyptus-printed silk

I seem to have stepped into a fractal labyrinth, where every step opens up an infinite number of new paths. Trouble is, I want to follow every one of them and preferably all at the same time – but there is just one of me. Which leads to another lesson: learning to pace myself, something at which I have never been very good. I keep telling myself: You don’t have to do all this now – there is a whole life ahead of you yet, you can do this next year or the year after. After having looked backwards and inwards for so long, I see the future opening up and presenting a joyful array of opportunities once again. I may be growing older (just a little) but inside I seem to have found the fountain of youth. 

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What can I say? I love feathers.

One thing I have decided for this blog is that I will post more often but spend less time on the individual posts. I tend to brush and polish and check and double-check and I post less often because I know how much time it takes me. So: more posts, less time.

I’ll leave you with these images of an old cotton T-shirt ecoprinted with eucalyptus, which I simmered in an iron bath for a while… 

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How it came out of the dye pot. The string has since been used to make iron marks on a piece of wool.

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Unwrapping the magic…

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Glowing…

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I love how the string resist shows up in flowing white lines on the heavily iron-marked fabric. This part of the tee was in direct contact with the iron bath, unfiltered by layers of fabric. It makes me think of seaweed floating in water.

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One of the things I most love about eco printing is the huge array of colours it produces. While you can influence the outcome, you have no absolute control over the results.

It may be raining cats and dogs outside but in here the sun is still shining…

Silver and Golden

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Last year this time, I was home alone. For me, New Year’s Eve has not been a night of celebration for a long time and I’m not sure it will ever be that again. Somehow it is associated with too much melancholy, endings, saying goodbye and farewell. And yet something is different. Last year on my own, not feeling forced to be artificially happy or pleasant, it felt like a new beginning for the first time in a long time.

And so it is this year. Somehow I have come into my own and that, my dear and faithful friends, is reason to celebrate. It is an ongoing process of course and I still battle my daemons, but there seem to be fewer of them and more of me.

I think there has not been a single day this year in which I did not realise and appreciate how beautiful this world – this life – really is. Naturally there is sorrow and sadness and pain and anger, but there is always beauty. And I have learned the true meaning of gratitude.

Gratitude when riding my bicycle in sunshine or rain, one little girl in front of me and one in back, singing, humming, chattering, warm bodies pressing against me, saying ‘Mummy you are the sweetest and the best’. My beautiful fifteen year old regaining his joy and wonderful smile in an off-system new school, hugging me and rubbing his cheek against mine, hoping for the day I will tell him his skin is prickly and he needs to shave. 

Gratitude when sticking my hands in the earth, picking flowers and herbs in my beautiful little garden, smelling the lovely, lovely scents of nature. Walking on the beach, head bent towards the sand as in my youth, collecting shells and storm-tossed wood… Strolling through the forest, smelling the earth, sitting beneath an oak tree and hearing the leaves whisper in the wind… My house has been filling up with plants, leaves, sticks, stones, shells and feathers and something loosens inside me every time I see them, smell them, touch them. Truly there is healing in allmother nature.

Gratitude when getting up at five in the morning, shivering and tired, to start work because that is the most quiet and peaceful time of day for me and those few precious early hours are when I do most and best. Oh, so grateful for having work and making money I can call my own (sort of) and at the same time being home for my boy and girls, even though I complain because I am running around all day from school to work to grocery shopping and laundry and cleaning and finally, blissedly, bed. 

Gratitude for the rediscovery of my great well of creativity, sadly neglected these many years but still waiting and willing to pour forth in such wealth. And the discovery of so many others whose creativity has inspired mine and made me better. So many beautiful people willing to share and reach out and encourage.

I have discovered people on the Web who have become precious to me, places that I love to dwell in, new dreams and creations to explore each day. People with great courage and love and wisdom who have made my life richer in the encountering and sharing. 

Gratitude, also, for having so much and so much therefore to give. Gratitude and generosity, I have come to understand, are two sides of the same coin. I hope I have given freely of myself and returned some of the gifts I have received.

It has been a silver and golden year. Not without its shadows, of course, some cast by others and some my own, but definitely filled with silver and golden light and much, much love.

So I am strangely amused to find myself looking forward to this ending and beginning all in one, even if just symbolic, and curious to see what another year will bring. I have been falling into the gravity well of my self and now, cautiously finding an orbit around that stable centre within, am striding forward once more.

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Photos: Eucalyptus and iron eco dye on ecological silk jersey, December 2013

Fall weekend at De Uelenspieghel

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With fall coming to a windy end, I thought I should share these pictures with you now or forever hold my peace. I always have so many things I want to post here but somehow too rarely get around to it. My current obsession being textile dyeing, most of my free time is spent doing witchy things with pots and pans, plants and flowers. And knitting, painting (still planning to post those photos, too), writing letters (more photos I owe you), and so on and so forth.

The pictures above show the last borage flowers fallen from the plant, which caught my eye last Ocrober when we spent a weekend volunteering at the beautiful Uelenpieghel. The old farm was converted to a cultural and spiritual centre and welcomes visitors throughout the year. In summer I spent an elfish art weekend there with the children and we had the most wonderful time. This weekend in October, however, was spent collecting apples…

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And more apples…

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After which we had the privilege of sipping freshly made apple and elderberry juice, still warm, tasting like a divine gift from the earth.

We also went mushroom gathering in the beautiful woods surrounding the farm’s grounds. My girls call it the fairy forest, with the pines rising from mossy soil, so soft and springy you wish you could lie down and have a nap. All of it studded with jewel-like mushrooms in so many colours, a light shroud of mist, and such peaceful quiet… 

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Although the picture is not sharp, unfortunately, I still wanted to show you these ‘dead man’s fingers’ looking like bits of charred bone sticking out of the forest floor. Pretty creepy, aren’t they?

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A beautiful little fairy circle or, as the Dutch call it, heksenkring (witches’ circle).

In front of our house there is a small field of grass, a fairly steep slope that runs up towards the road. It is lined with beautiful big trees that have lulled me to sleep with their swishing wind dance many a night. Every fall and sometimes in spring, too, a wonderful witches’ circle arises magically from the grass. As if this earth already knew what took me so many years to figure out and issued a standing invitation…

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This pretty little thing occupied a mossy old tree stump all on its own, while those below seem to cluster together in a fairy village…

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Catching the light and drawing attention in her beautiful autumn frock…

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These, apparently, make a wonderful dye bath for textiles. I wish I’d known earlier although I’m not sure I could have torn them from their perch on this lovely silvery tree trunk… 

Below is a pretty yellow stagshorn (Calocera viscosa), which the Dutch call ‘sticky coral mushroom’. Doesn’t it make you smile just looking at it?

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In the evening the girls were exhausted from their day outside and fell asleep within minutes, giving me leave to join the tango workshop downstairs. I took some lessons years ago and amazingly much of it was dredged up from my body’s memory banks very quickly. It was lovely to dance, I’d forgotten how much I love it. Even better to hear the teacher say I should to take up dance again because I have a dancer’s body (underneath those childbearing pounds I never managed to shift, at least…). It was one of the loveliest compliments I’ve received these many years.

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The place is permanent residence to a changing group of sculptors, healers, seekers and finders, all gathered here by the lovely Annette whose parents believed in self sufficiency and walking lightly upon this beautiful earth, raising their children here. Annette lives in the original farm and has turned it into a welcoming sanctuary for the weary of heart and soul as well as a gathering and replenishing well for those who have already found their natural place in this world.

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This beautiful apple tree looks like it would up and walk away if it ever got bored in its current sunny spot.

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It was a magical weekend. There are places like this that make your heart peaceful and your head quiet, that heal your aching heart with every moment you spend there. The Uelenspieghel is such a sacred place to me and I already know that I will return there again and again…

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http://www.uelenspieghel.nl/