A dream of the Spirit of a Song.
“I saw your song alive; there was great beauty. A cord stretching and growing like a branch, or a tree; a synapse, a ganglion; a cord of sinew, or mating rope between Arthropoda; an umbilical cord, twisting, fleshy, rooty, internal, from earth to heaven. With growing points/nodes/staging posts or platforms where happy dark-haired women were sitting, singing, with wide open mouths. They were descending from these platforms, one was a little anxious about the descent. Then they sat in a circle on the ground.”
I’m just home from teaching a course at the wonderful, beautiful School of Art & Wellbeing in Devon.
The School is a haven for Nature: several sweeping acres are set high on a hill overlooking Dartmoor, with a Mongolian yurt, wild gardens, shepherd’s huts, polytunnels for plants, flowers and painting; and a pavilion with a kitchen and tables; easels, paints and showers.
This is a place for deep connection with all that is good and abundant. It has been established and nurtured over many years by Mary-Ann and Geoffrey. I knew it was perfect for my workshops the first time I visited when I ran my dog around the open meadow beside the pavilion.
My first workshop there was about connecting creatively with one’s inner fire, and the life force felt so strongly in this place. We worked with shamanic ceremony; we made journeys riding on shamanic horses to find power animals, plant spirits, and places of beauty in our lives to ask for medicine names or a name a special place would give us.
In some cases these came as ‘vocables’. We worked ceremonially, and also with humour and lightness. I don’t teach in a strict way, and worries about ‘getting things wrong’ were dispelled. I also worked with the ‘hollow bone’ process, one to one, inviting trauma and grief to surface. Images came for drawing by participants, and words.
We talked about First Nations’ Peoples’ poetry, and song, and images. We looked at contemporary artists, and we spoke about the constriction and inheritance of patriarchal and religious systems.
One night we had a wonderful fire and a sunset dance using headphones and bluetooth technology. Our circle was warm and safe. I felt honoured to be working with such a wonderful, brave, inspiring group of women.
The next workshop here will be August 30th – September 2nd.
This will focus on the ancestors; we’ll respond creatively with images, words, dance, and possibly song. This course is fully booked.
The last course this year will be from October 25th – 27th. It will be strongly body-focused, and will also work with a range of responsive sensitive mediums and will be explored ceremonially and with beauty.
Please contact me for details of next year’s courses – they’re currently in the planning stage!
For around 3 years Mat Osmond and I have collaborated, at a distance, on a book about the Black Madonna. Mat wrote poems in response to the paintings of Meinrad Craighead; at the same time (up until September 2019) I was working on large watercolour paintings of aspects of the divine feminine.
“The Black Madonna’s Song is dedicated to Sr Meinrad Craighead (d. 8.4.19): an artist, writer and Benedictine nun whose life was steered from early childhood by an intimate sense of encounter with God the Mother. At the heart of the pamphlet is a series of ekphrastic poems by Mat Osmond that reply to paintings by Craighead: works that reflect her lifelong devotion to the Black Madonna.
The Black Madonna’s Song is illuminated by a series of arresting watercolour paintings by Kate Walters, chosen for their resonance with Mat’s poems and offering a third layer to the pamphlet’s oblique meditation on the instinctive process that Craighead herself spoke of as ‘praying with images’.
In honour of the women who’ve recently taken up breaking the windows of UK banks heavily implicated in funding ecological catastrophe, all proceeds from The Black Madonna’s Song are being donated to covering their and fellow Extinction Rebellion arrestee’s court costs. ” Mat Osmond
For a link to the publisher, where you can buy the book:
And to close this post…..an interesting article on new pathways in art…