Below are some responses and some of my teaching notes….
The Blue Mares Anoint the Earth
From the velvet of the universe they come, their ears flat to the horse behind, manes rearing and tails soaring. They come climbing the curvature of the earth, draw half-light from dark matter, dark from the stars. Their hooves grip the mantle, splay gases, ozone, argon, tremble the watery biosphere. They come to anoint, to pour the pink and the grey over us to settle on typhoon and tempest, forest fire, eruption, the flooded marshlands. On and on they canter, their necks jostle, their nostrils breathe the gold of gods, the incense of the heavens. They gallop in circles around and around each plane of sphere, blue flanks wet with sweat and their breath silver. The grey and the white and the dark light fall over the earth oiling, oiling, oiling, till the mare’s bodies become bones and their hair falls to be woven with the paws of bear, lion, wolf.
By Nikki Kenna, Iona, 2022.
I had a wonderful time with you and the beautiful group of women we shared our week with. The work we did was deep and powerful and so part of the Iona landscape with its machair and sea, curlews, Barnacle geese flying and the golden eagle coming to close our workshop. My Hollow Bone session with you took me to such a connected place and I am still drawing on the blessings and power I felt. My practice has new purpose and I feel that I have a well to dip for my work and life.
Thank you , Kate x Nikki Kenna.
The night walk was very special. The silence between us, the open sky, the setting sun, the luminous sand, the softness of it all, the curlew call, the fullsome moon. The ease, freedom and trust I felt walking in the almost-darkness with the group. I couldn’t have done it without them.
This gentle island holds us as if in a prayer, the merest whisper, delicate and strong as a web.
This is my third workshop on Iona with Kate Walters Artist … this five day work shop took me to the metaphysical , elemental edges far beyond what we can sense with our senses . Kate Walters, through her teaching and her ancient response to being, took me to a space that enabled the depths of my humanness to visually access fragile veils of strange, wonderous, uncomfortable, cellular spaces, where my work took me to places of unimaginable possibilities and beauty. Thank you for the unforgettable experience.
“I am still roaming pink beaches; running with wild spirit horses; walking snakelike, joined by an indelible golden thread; honouring my parents in wild and holy places… deep recalibration, connections and reconnections still forming…
Thank you, Kate, for the generosity and intuitive wisdom with which you created this incredible space; and for the loving and scrupulous way in which you held us there…and for making possible all the laughter, beauty, spirituality, creativity and deep companionship of this precious time.”
It was a real privilege to spend a week on Iona with Kate and the group. The gentle spirit of this ‘thin’ place, its emptiness and beauty seemed to allow a deep opening, to Kate’s teaching and the shamanic practice. This and the generous sharing of everyone in the group led to the unfolding of a rich, powerful and profound experience – utterly wonderful!
I return home with a wealth of creative material to work on and the cours and forms of the island indelibly etched into my imaginative world.
In response to a shamanic journey:
Awaiting some unknown fate
Like being sacrificed;
Flesh against stone, spread wide
All I can do is give in to this
There is no question –
It is far greater even than the human heart.
A dark creature approaches
With an iron strength
Pounds at me without restraint
Over and over with such fierce power.
I am broken apart.
Wild primeval sounds streams from my mouth, from the very depths of me,
Echoing through lifetimes.
From between my legs the beast draws out a shining metallic river,
Pulling and pulling as if a child were being born
But instead, this endless golden flow
Pours richly into the earth,
A mysterious anointing.
With love and gratitude,
North Beach Iona.
You are in the perfect place, chosen before time.
Find the rock where you feel rooted, stand there and
let what needs to happen, happen.
I have my own geometric design.
This will hold the power which flows through me.
I will charge up; I will fill up; and as I do
So I will clear my body lines and the lines
Which pass through the earth in this very spot.
I am a key, a powerful transformer
I will lay down a foundation for others to stand on.
Holding a small broken whelk shell in my left hand.
Tiny house furnished in pearly pink.
No one lives there any more.
A meal for a hungry, sharp-eyed bird.
There’s a hole in the roof where the water gets in
And in a thousand years I will feel you between my toes.
Its hard to imagine the restorative power of the combination of Kate Walters’s 5 day course and the Island of Iona to be found anywhere else on this planet.
She harnesses the creative authority found in the wind, the sand, the sea and the ever changing sky and brings all these strands together, weaving them into the rich mixture of her shamanic practise and her own very original teaching style.
It brings us back to this mystic place year after year to fill up our artistic coffers and we leave with enough imaginative material until the next time.
Here are extracts from my teaching notes:
Welcome, introductions, confidentiality, hopes and intentions. Calling in song. St Columba. Thin place.
My broad brush hopes and intentions regarding general approach and picture regarding vibrations, energy.
Hollow bone. One early evening shamanic walk.
9.30 meditation. Walk to beach together mindfully, shamanically. Prayers there. Laying on our backs and fronts and tuning in, drawing with both hands onto sketch books as we lay quietly. Shamanic walk back. 11.00 Second journey to ask for guidance on each person’s main intentions and direction. Notes and drawings about this.
11.45 body=animal=vision guided meditation and drawing with closed eyes and left hand. Drawing to music to loosen up and have fun.
How can we find peace in ourselves? Journey and to ask also what can we do to help the world as well as ourselves ? The unending flame, the birds of spirit nesting here and the parents feeding the many young (all blue) esp the female. And the spirit flame has a kind of perfume.
Journey to ask what is your spirit perfume and does it connect you to a stone, a mineral you might find here, and or a plant being?, the birds here…birds in stories and myth – conference of the birds Persian books and images…where do the spirit birds nest in your body? Birds as messengers. Avian flu. Drawings and journey, a poem?
What does your angel look like? Where will you meet it? What does it have to say to you? A message? Draw it with non dom hand and closed eyes and delicate marks. Journey and drawing afterwards. Follow up from yesterday. Angel out ahead coming backwards to meet us as we go forwards.
Music, breath, marks, drawing, words tuning into parts of your body.
Iona the island of the horses, horses swimming across great waters. Meditate briefly on this image and what it brings up in you. Epona often associated with Demeter and with birds and rivers. My dream of the horse and rivers…
What is the magical seed you would eat? Where would it come from, what would it look like, would it be coated in anything e.g. gold, rose perfume? Meditation then shamanic journey. P 154
What or who is your divine partner to be with you, inspire you, in this life? Journey. Drawings, paintings.
write a love letter to your mother, your work, this place; and from all of the above to yourself…
What or who would your hair and bones be energetically woven into for safety? High energy, animal, plant or spirit… meditation then journey…and drawing with non dom hand and closed eyes
3.30 Where do you feel you need anointing? How would it happen and who would do it? How would you anoint the world to help ease the path of peace? And climate change? The coming catastrophe, do we have language for it? Is it body language, animal language? Read parts of Susan Kassouf essay and feel into words around trauma, also the XR texts and dark mountain, uncivilisation. Draw, write, feel pockets of trauma in our bodies.
What are the moments of transition (Sovatsky book) towards intimacies – the mystery of trust and desire. Stoking your inner fire, how would you be held?
Turn to Emil Nolde …. Notes on colour. Strong harmonies to be held inside. The pale spiritual harmonic blend of the Iona palette. Work with both.
What is your inner palette? A journey to ask to be shown the colours, then work with them and allow the creative process, the hands-on with paint, to take the process further, to extend or complete the journey. Allowing the spirits to work through your hands in the creative act, not just in the shamanic journey.
“The pulse of strong colours and the way they intensified the timbre and increased the volume of ‘sound’ emanating from each colour was what gave his art the power to delight – and shock – us to this day. “ we are reminded that life is extraordinary – knowing how to look, and be receptive… He worked in layers, he soaked the paper to remove the size so it was more absorbent. Layers of oils with glazes give you more intense colours, like my blacks in my recent cave painting.
Nolde had an early formative experience of laying down on the earth like Christ with his arms open then rolling over and feeling the whole earth was his lover/beloved… brought the spiritual, bodily, powerful erotic aspect to his work. Group to try this also, to make drawings, to feel it intensely, let colours bubble up in their consciousness and to enjoy them, feel the joy in them, the effervescence. What are the special qualities in this particular (northern) landscape you could bring into your work to help you with your art and your soul? Be aware, tune your awareness to the rarefied aspects of this place, the sounds, the colours, the whisperings…
Nolde told his friends that the best art was often difficult to appreciate on first viewing. Why do you think this might be true?
Nolde moved from an optical, external stimulus to a deeply felt inner value. “Nolde was in the vanguard of those German artists who wanted to create a spiritually charged art.”
What and where is the navel or omphalos of your work/self? What is your umbilicus connected to? What nourishes you, comes through that cord? Do you need to disconnect from anything? Where does your holy milk pour from?
Becoming not broken but broken open. What in you needs healing, and what needs to break open? A journey, some drawings afterwards.
“Catastrophe – an over-turning. “Developing our ability to think catastrophic thoughts may allow us to make contact with those evolving realities thus enabling us to translate thought into much needed action and make change in the world.”
“A traumatised sensibility has learned from experience that annihilation is thinkable. It can bear the tragic, this feeling of irreparable brokenness, or, in environmental terms, that we have entered a time of post-sustainability.” The world is not assumed to be safe. Just as annihilation is thinkable, despair is bearable. We are learning to mourn losses on an unprecedented scale. You can lead with your vulnerability. Vulnerability does not mean weakness.
“Instead of hardening and splitting, we can soften and open, allowing ourselves to weather, to experience how microclimates are embedded in a larger world.”
“A traumatised sensibility acknowledges living in a material body, a body that is not one’s own, a body subject to wounding, to degradation, to weathering. I am porous and fragile, flammable, floodable, subject to infection. Stability is a thing of the past. Home may not be safe. Care-givers may not know what they are doing.” from Susan Kassouf
What part of your body will fall away with all your tears? Where could your body collapse? From a dream of mine.
Where does the earth creep into you? Where are your boundaries with the earth soft and porous? Tune into your body and draw.