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     Awen Environments

                                                inspirational living arts

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Cats as Guides and Allies in Transformation

Posted on February 5, 2016 at 4:47 PM Comments comments (7)
The cats in my life have taught me so much about myself. They have crossed my life in many ways both in the real world and in my dreams. They have appeared to teach me what I needed to learn to heal them, myself and others. They have also led me on a path of self revelation discovering the limits to my boundaries. When I didn't want to pay attention to them, they would insist on getting their way as most cats do. 

The first cat that had a profound impact on my life was my cat Dreamer who became ill and was given very little time to live. He ended up living many more years as I learned about herbs and homeopathy and how everything we need to heal our bodies and our lives is right here in the natural world that is all around us. We need only to become familiar with our plant and mineral allies and the wonderful healing gift of vibrational medicine. It's all in the energy of everything that is around us. 

Later my cats would teach me about the energy of my home space and the health and wellness of the land that I lived on. Inevitably they would break something, urinate in inappropriate places or find other ways to tell me where the problem areas were in terms of residual energies or geopathic stress lines that ran through the house. Cats are keenly sensitive and aware. More often than not, they will sleep in places that have unbalanced energies or wreak havoc in your life in order to get your attention. They also like to make a mess of clutter because it is stagnant energy and felines feel that. Feral ones will also congregate on land where there are unbalanced and toxic energies. They are always shifting and healing energies at various levels.

Cats don't have the same boundaries that humans do. When they need to, they will move outside them. They will also tell you when they are not happy (nor healthy) and need to go outside the boundaries that you have defined for them. Cats tell you when your own boundaries are being violated. Their purring and affection restores balance. All felines sense the energy of people and the energy of space and act accordingly. I'm confident this is why they have been revered by ancient cultures and often given mystical attributes.

The big cats will also appear in your dreams if they happen to be your power animal and are calling you. My cat guide appeared in a dream calling me to step into my power and look at my boundaries after I had been on a shamanic path for quite a long time. Through my journeying work he later helped me face a nightmare that was representative of a toxic situation I was dealing with. My power cat helped me to overcome my fears in real life and put an end to a verbally and mentally abusive situation by getting clear about my boundaries and facing my problem. The situation had been spilling over into all areas of my life and destroying my health. I realized in the end that my health and well being was paramount after all. My power animal helped me to change a life that had become unmanageable. Once again, a cat had healed my life and brought me to a new level of awareness. This time it was via the realm of spirit.

If you are interested in learning who your power animal is or are in need of guidance on personal, health or professional issues, I will now be offering shamanic journeying sessions to retrieve information for clients. Please visit my facebook page Reawakening the Spirit while I am in the process of building my new site, which will focus on the path to wholeness via embracing an authentic life.

Blessings of Authenticity!

Copyright 2016 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Remembering Charlotte: Message from an Orbweaver

Posted on November 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (10)
Photo by Nicholas TaAs time goes on I realize that so much of what we've been taught or have a tendency to fear is actually associated with balance and light. This story is about a marbled orbweaver spider that I found this summer in one of my gardens. I named her Charlotte after the spider in the book "Charlotte's Web" by American author E.B. White.  I had always enjoyed the book and later also the movie because it held a special message regarding seeing the world differently and how sometimes the seemingly impossible can be achieved (photo of an orbweaver spider by Nicholas Ta)

I observed Charlotte on a regular basis this past summer over several months weaving a new web every night. As I came to know this tiny creature better, I realized there were many things she had to teach me. Perhaps most would find it unusual that I would spend time writing about a garden spider, but I felt very strongly about sharing Charlotte's story particularly at Halloween time here in the US. Perhaps also some reading this would learn to appreciate and respect this highly persecuted and misunderstood insect which I believe is one of the most creative of God's tiny creatures alongside the honeybee, albeit in a very different way 

One day I woke up to find a myriad of beautiful dew covered webs all throughout my gardens. The effect was purely magical and I marveled at how many of these spiders were actually in my gardens. Someone who is afraid of spiders would definitely have been overwhelmed, but for me it was the opposite. I realized how far my gardens had come and how revitalized this little plot of land now was, something I had written about previously in a blog. The land had once mostly been just lawn and now this backyard was teaming with biodiversity with all sorts of beneficial insects, birds, flowers and wildlife. My new hive of honeybees were doing well and I had so many varieties of orbweaver spiders to keep a healthy balance in my ecosystem. This balance would in turn draw new forms of wildlife. Each day I would observe Charlotte and acknowledge her in some way as I took my walk through the gardens.

The time came when I saw that Charlotte could no longer weave her beautiful web and only a few strands at best. Her body was about the size of a dime, full and round and looking like it could burst. I knew it was nearing the time when she would lay her eggs and then die as in the book. It saddened me to think that this little garden friend I had come to know was leaving. She stayed a few more days until she weaved no longer and then one morning she was gone, having descended to the ground to go back into the earth from whence she came. I knew I would miss her.

As I thought about Charlotte and the progression of her life, I knew I had gained a new found respect for this particular type of spider called the marbled orbweaver. Unlike some other species of spiders, she only came out at night and each time she would weave a completely new web.  Inevitably it would become damaged throughout the day and sometimes completely destroyed either from the weather or from animals and insects. 

It amazed me that Charlotte would tirelessly weave her beautiful and complex creation anew each and every night one strand at a time. I thought about how hard it would be for humans to create a work of art or a garden from scratch only to have it eventually destroyed repeatedly. I had certainly felt that anguish and frustration with my own gardens after I had left certain homes in the past. Here was this tiny spider weaving a work of art every night. What a monumental task for a creature so small and with so short a lifespan. So much could be gained by humans if we had nearly as much resilience and wherewithal in striving toward our goals or completing creations despite whatever came our way.

One day a really tiny spider also taught me something after Charlotte left. It was another dew covered morning when I spotted a new web in one of my fir trees. This spider had built a spectacular web between some branches one night. The spider was nowhere to be seen, so I assumed it was another marbled orbweaver because they tend to hide during the day, but I was wrong. To my astonishment the following day I found a very tiny spider had built this huge new web. I thought perhaps she was a baby orbweaver. I called her Maya for illusion, but she quickly disappeared. Maya had created a web to rival that of any orbweaver much larger than her own size simply by using the same principals of weaving. Her small size and seeming limitations had not hindered her in the least.

It appears the last of the orbweavers have laid their eggs and died due to the colder temperatures but they have all left me with admiration and a new awareness and thoughts about the mysteries of the universe. What task lies before you that seems to be overwhelming? Do you ever think that your own actions cannot effect change because you are only one person? What are you weaving in your web of influence? What seems out of reach at this time? We are only limited by our beliefs. Perhaps we can take inspiration from the tiniest of beings that surround us and weave something new and more spectacular in this world.

Blessings of Creativity!

2014 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Snowflake's Story: a Look at Aconite

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM Comments comments (39)
Sometimes animals cross your path and you truly wonder whether their visit was just to help them recover or there's a more profound message in it for you. This story is one such experience. The first week after the 2014 New Year started out with a polar vortex that not only hit this region of WNY very hard, but many areas throughout the country. It's times like those with such extreme frigid temperatures that make you wonder how wild creatures even survive at all, but somehow they seem to manage. Sometimes though, a helping human hand makes all the difference.

The second day of our blizzard had me letting our dogs out and filling bird feeders amidst -6 degrees Fahrenheit and intense winds.  The birds were anxiously waiting for anything that would help them make it through the extreme temperature.  It was the coldest weather I'd experienced in this region in years. We Western New Yorkers are typically pretty tough, being used to this kind of weather and somehow we always seem to make the best out of the situation, but this was intense weather. 

That morning as I moved toward a feeder hung near one of our honey locust trees, I saw a bluejay covered with snow and seemingly lifeless.  His eyes were closed and the only thing that seemed to indicate some life force was the fact one of his feet was tightly clenched into a fist.  Somehow I sensed there might be hope as I scooped him up in my gloved hand and brought him inside. My son was home from school and I told him to warm the bird against his chest in the event he might still be alive.  I went back outside to continue with my morning activities.

When I came back in, my son told me the bluejay was still alive and breathing.  I told him to keep the bird warm until he noticed more life and I gave him a flannel pillowcase to wrap the bird in.  Ordinarily a heating pad is used in wildlife rehabilitation, but I knew in this instance, it was the connection with a living being that this bird needed, even if that being was human and perhaps maybe because he was human.  As I had hoped, my son's warmth and heart intention to bring this bird back from the brink of death, was exactly what this bluejay needed.

After some time, I thought the bird might be ready for some medicine, so I tried giving the homeopathic remedy Aconite in a syringe with some water, but his mouth was tightly clenched shut. Instead I rubbed some Rescue Remedy on his head as the vibration on the skin is often enough to calm an injured animal.  After about a half hour, my son called me from the other room saying the bluejay had put its beak around his finger.  

I knew it was time to give the bird the Aconite it needed to help recover fully from the shock of nearly dying. I'd seen various songbirds and mammals recover quickly from the shock of being hit by a car, after being given Aconite, which is the vibrational imprint of the flower Monkshood.  Aconite is the remedy for shock and works well in extreme cases with wildlife and people. For some reason the medicine of this plant works with the trauma of shock held within the body and acts like a key opening a lock. It can even be used for injuries in the past.

I checked the bluejay and decided he was warm and alert enough to be given some Aconite since his eyes were now open. Because his beak was wrapped around my son's finger, it wasn't difficult to get a syringe in his mouth.  The bluejay swallowed and I knew we just had to wait now.  Again, this is one of those moments when you see the power of homeopathy in full force because you know wild animals don't respond to placebos.  It is unfortunate that those who do not understand homeopathy criticize it as having a placebo effect, because I've seen it work in a variety of situations with wildlife and my son when he was a toddler.  This time, within minutes, the bluejay seemed more vital and looked like he was ready to be transferred to a recovery cage.  It was obvious that continuing to hold him would only invite more stress.

So I transferred the bluejay to his cage and put some sunflower seeds and peanuts in a dish for him, with another dish of water and Rescue Remedy. Several hours later he was already eating and looking like he was ready to continue living the life of an energetic bluejay once again. His recovery had been nothing short of miraculous for us.

Much to our surprise, he even managed to temporarily escape from his cage while putting in more food.  The flight however, quickly tired and stressed him, and at that point it wasn't yet clear whether this was due to a low overall energy or just the stress of our trying to catch him.  It was probably a little of both, but it was obvious he wasn't yet ready for release and the weather was still brutally cold, so release wasn't even an option yet.  My son decided to name the bluejay "Snowflake" although I thought "Blizzard" might have been more appropriate. I gave Snowflake another dose of Aconite and waited another day.

There's a fine line in wildlife rehabilitation between releasing a wild animal too soon before they are ready to be on their own and keeping a wild animal in captivity too long which can also kill them due to stress.  It's always a tough choice for me and many others who help wildlife.  This was no exception, but I waited a few days and I decided to release him exactly 48 hours after I had brought him in from the cold.  Although it was still a cold day, the temperature had increased somewhat and the sun was shining brilliantly.  Snowflake immediately flew to the top of our old maple tree and obviously enjoyed his new found freedom.  I had no doubt in my mind, we had chosen the perfect day for his release.

I know that my son will always remember the day we saved a bluejay from the bitter cold during the Blizzard of 2014 and I know I will too.  My son learned that sometimes things aren't always what they appear to be and sometimes, even when things seem hopeless, you might just save someone's life if you try.  I also know that it's not always the outcome that matters, but the intention and the care that we give to someone in need that counts in the overall scheme of things.  Although I know that wild animals die everyday out in Nature, I think it's worth the effort to help a creature in need when they cross your path.

The same day we released the bluejay, I found a tiny Chickadee frozen in the snow not far from our beehive and another bird feeder.  It saddened me that I didn't find this tiny songbird at the right time. Chickadees are one of my favorite songbirds because I love to watch them and admire their high energy, strength and resilience during the coldest of winters. I know I was not meant to find this little one. It was his time to meet the Creator. Two wild birds and one blizzard with two completely different outcomes. Divine timing in life is everything and sometimes... so is seizing the moment.

Blessings of Gratitude!

2014 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Bee Feng Shui: the Energy of Space

Posted on September 7, 2013 at 11:01 AM Comments comments (4)
I've been thinking lately about how my interests and my work through out the years went from working inside the home with regard for the energy of space to where my focus is presently, which is outside with the land.  This has been an ongoing process for quite some time, but yesterday when someone from Myanmar found my site using the key words "bee feng shui," I just had to explore this idea and write about it.  I've written on feng shui and I've written about bees, but I've never written about how they relate to one another.  I doubt that many people have made a connection between the two, but there is one and the principles are at what I believe to be the very foundation of our survival here on this planet.  It has been said that humans will not survive on this planet more than four years, if the honeybee should disappear.  That's a scary thought given the honeybee is in tremendous peril at this particular moment in our planet's history.  Whether or not it would be that quick remains to be seen and I hope we never find out, but there's no doubt the loss of our pollinators would change our food supply as we know it, as well as the energy of our natural world.
So how does the honey bee relate to the energy of our homes and spaces?  Although I've loved seeing bees in action for quite some time now, it's been over a year since I began working with them intimately and observing their activities and behaviors as a caretaker of two beehives.  The insect kingdom in general has taught me a great deal about my own personal energy field and now the high energy honeybee has brought me to an even greater understanding of the dynamics of this planet and our own personal spaces.  I truly believe that it is our relationship to all insects that is the key to our survival as a human species.  In actuality, the insects do not need us, we need them and it's time we all changed our attitudes and stopped treating them as insignificant. 
Honeybees and insects in general are all finely tuned to the invisible strands of energetic grids that run through this planet.  You may not be familiar with them or you may choose to deny their existence, but ancient cultures knew about them and managed their societies accordingly.  The Earth has natural and man-made electromagnetic fields that run through the planet and we also have this energy flowing through our bodies.  Rudolph Steiner has discussed the significance of formic acid in his numerous essays on Nature.  Formic acid is the building block of life which connects us to the cosmos, revitalizes the soil and it is something that the insects bring to this planet and maintain.  Ants, wasps and honeybees are among those insects that revitalize an area by creating formic acid, without which we apparently would not be able to exist and it also has a spiritual essence to it according to Steiner. 
So, by their very nature, these insects are injecting a form of acupuncture or feng shui treatment of the land to enliven it.  They are opening up channels of dead or stagnant energies and allowing the energy to flow on this planet, revitalizing the area with high vibrational frequencies.  Subsequently, this energy will also then flow into the adjacent land and your home.  Those who have been bothered by bees, wasps or ants building colonies inside the structures of their homes, have no doubt experienced other problems related to energy stagnation within their lives, though it's easy to find fault with the insects.  Unfortunately, though their efforts might be noble and instinctive, the insects usually suffer the fate of their own demise when pesticide contractors are brought in who only exacerbate the underlying issue of imbalance of the land and energetic frequency of the home structure.  The owners of these homes never really understand what's going on at a core, energetic level.
Feng shui (wind and water) is about the flow of energy through our homes and through the land.  If this energy becomes stagnant or blocked, disease and disharmony results.  You cannot have a chaotic, stagnant or disease ridden property and not be affected mentally, emotionally and physically.  The two go hand in hand.  Obviously, those people who are drawn to living in cities with high energy frequencies and loads of activity and people, are more subject to a wide variety of influences some of which can be quite chaotic or destructive and yet if the inherent energies of the cities are positive and life enhancing, it can also generate a very positive influence to those who dwell there.  Too high of a vibration is not good and too low of a vibration is not good.  Just being in the country does not necessarily imply a better energy, if the inherent energies of the surrounding land are unbalanced or toxic with negative histories.  In truth, all of the Earth is sacred and even those seemingly negative environments have the potential to be transformed by human thought and behavior with the help of Nature.
The honeybees in particular, because of their work as a community, show us how everything is related.  Their work and very being corresponds to the sacred geometric pattern of the hexagon, a six-sided figure where there is no wasted space.  All is equal.  And so it is on this planet.  In truth, no life form or existence (including rocks, inanimate object or human creation) is insignificant, as it all came from the same source and works as a collective on this planet.  The links cannot be broken because they all work together and even something that seemingly does not have consciousness, originates from some form of energetic force at it's very basic level.  That is why the energy of space is so important because all things affect us at an energetic level-- human interaction, the natural world and the spaces we inhabit. 
The honeybees teach us how to work toward a common goal and to take something of one form and to transform it into something more beautiful and life enhancing.  The honeybee brings more beauty and nourishment into the world and creates a healing nectar for all life forms, while transforming toxic patterns and behaviors into something positive through their very vibration and activities.  When you work to transform your personal space, you do the same affecting the environment around you.  It's time to restore the sacred to everyday life because truly our own spaces and spheres of influence are the only ones we can control or be responsible for.  The rest is subject to the choices and influences of others, the outcome of which has yet to be determined.
Bee the Blessings You Seek!
2013 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Three Moments: a Story of Transition

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM Comments comments (29)
"The only thing that is constant is change."-- Heraclitus
Over the course of a few weeks this past summer, I was witness to three different experiences with Nature that left me with the same message. Why was I present during those moments and what did they mean? I'm still contemplating those experiences as I relate them to the present moment.
The first experience was when I thrilled at the sight of a  Pileated Woodpecker  that flew through my yard.  Because they are one of the largest and most beautiful of woodpeckers in our area, it was a rare occurence for a suburban neighborhood.  As I called for my son to come see this awesome bird, it flew toward a neighbor's tree near our busy road.  Suddenly I heard a pop and the life of this beautiful woodpecker was over.  It had apparently been hit by a passing car.  We anguished over the fact that one moment this bird was flying free in all its glory and the next, it was needlessly killed by human traffic.  Coming to terms with what had happened, the woodpecker's death inspired my young son to create a new garden outside his bedroom to bury this bird and honor its fleeting moment with us.  Although I was the one to complete the work, I know the memory will stay with both of us as this garden flourishes and brings forth new life this year.
The second experience occurred when I was startled by several crows cawing in my backyard.  Suddenly I saw a beautiful  Red Tailed Hawk  lift up from my neighbor's gardens carrying a young bunny in it's talons.  The bunny squirmed, but made no sound.  Although I admire the natural world, it always saddens me to see actual occurences like this.  I knew, however, that the hawk's presence was a sign of a balanced ecosystem in our area despite being a suburban landscape.  I was also reminded that it is our own view of life and death that colors our attitude toward seeing this relationship in Nature, for in truth there is only a circle of life and energy.  Nothing really dies, it just transforms.
The third experience happened in the parking lot of a local hardware store.  As I parked my car, I saw this beautiful, large orange moth that had landed on the vehicle in front of me.  As I was admiring this moth's unfamiliar beauty, in the next moment a black and white songbird I couldn't identify suddenly swooped down and snatched the moth very gracefully in its mouth and flew away.  Because I had never seen such a bird, I followed it through the parking lot to where I found it had made its nest in one of few trees in this human landscape.  The satisfied songbird had returned to her nest and now snuggled over her clutch of eggs.  It was then that I realized what I had just seen was the beauty and grace of Nature, despite the barrenness of an asphalt parking lot that man had created.  This bird had learned to adjust and thrive despite its circumstances.  Two beautiful creations of Nature had come together in a synchronistic moment.  One took the life of another, and one gave its life so that several others could survive. 
Three birds, three different situations which all had an impact on me.  They say that when messages come in threes, it's wise to pay attention.  I was witness to all three of these wildlife appearances and I had to question why.  I think that part of the lesson in all of this is to sometimes be a detached observer in life.  We may be witness to events that trouble us or we don't understand and while it's important to have compassion during those times, we also need to trust that everything is as it should be.  There is usually a greater plan that is unfolding in the overall scheme of things that we may be unaware of. 
We can do our best and be clear about our intentions while working toward what we believe in, but sometimes we also need to refrain from interfering or judging events that surround us in our lives, especially if it is not in our best interest to participate.  It's also important to make the best out of whatever situation you find yourself in. What you focus your attention on can sometimes consume you.  More often than not, everything is as it should be and eventually will work itself out.  The natural world is always working toward balance and so should we.  Trusting this process becomes very important during times of uncertainty.  Observing Nature in it's perfection can often be a valuable tool toward maintaining peace within one's self.  It's also helps to remember that, in a moment, life can change.
Blessings of Transition!
Copyright 2012 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Message to a Raccoon: a Story of Regret

Posted on November 11, 2012 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (2)
You never had a chance little one.  I'm so sorry that I failed you.  You looked at me with those soulful eyes as if to say, "I know I'm safe.  I know you won't hurt me." and then you curled back up and went to sleep in your empty dumpster.  They took all your trees away years ago to build this business complex.  Maybe your home once stood in this very same spot.  And now they call  you  the intruder.  You were just being creative-- making the best out of a situation, but they don't get it.
I tried to tell you that they would come and kill you, but you didn't seem to be concerned.  I went for help and was given false hope.  They told me you'd be fine and no one would harm you.  This had been going on for a while.  Everything was being taken care of and I shouldn't concern myself.  I trusted them as you trusted me, but I was so wrong.
I went back to work, but I thought about your little masked face throughout the day.   I checked on you later when I got the mail, but you were gone.  Then I saw the signs-- the blood stained carpet where you had once curled your plump body and more blood in the corner where you most likely met our Creator.  I'm sure your friends and family met a similar fate all summer long, but this time I was there to bear witness.
I'm so sorry little one that they don't value your life as I do.  They don't understand, do they?  When I confronted your killer, he told me you were a nuisance and couldn't be relocated.  He had a license to trap and by law that gave him the power over your seemingly insignificant life.  I raged at him, but that would not bring you back nor would it ease the pain I felt at having trusted someone's words rather than my own intuition.
When I contacted the authorities they gave me the same response.  Your life was of little value and they would have done the same.  It didn't matter that you never had a chance or that you never showed aggression toward me.  I know they say all of you are nasty, but I know different.  Of course you will defend yourself when in danger as most wild animals will do, but you are also extremely bright, playful and curious-- the very attributes that often contribute to your untimely death.
I can't forget your eyes and the calm way you looked at me that last time. Forgive me little one, for not taking the right action.  Forgive me for trusting the wrong person.  Forgive me for not being a greater voice in your defense.  May your playful spirit be free, little one.  And may something good come from all of this.  May the humans come to understand the error of their ways and your significance.  May they one day realize the need to respect the wild ones whose homes they take for their own selfish needs.  How foolish they are to think they are greater than you....
Heartfelt Blessings to the Wild Animal World.
2012 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
For Mimi who taught me so many years ago about the incredible personalities and intelligence of raccoons, as well as how to face my fears head on.  And for my unfortunate little friend who reminded me recently how far we have yet to come as humans with regard to respect for all life on this planet.

The Gift of Sight: The Arrival of Samson

Posted on December 14, 2011 at 10:08 AM Comments comments (1)
"The eyes are not responsible when the mind does the seeing."  --Publilius Syrus
This story started out as an article about homeopathy and herbs until it evolved into something quite different as I began to realize that the message given to me was an even greater one.  It's the story about how even the greatest of challenges can give us new lessons, insights, and opportunities when we chose to see  them in such a way.  Everything is a matter of perspective. 
As life would have it, my cat stories continue with the arrival of a new feral kitten I named Samson, the source of inspiration for this article.  Samson was given his name for the strength of the sun and for his perseverance with everything that he has had to overcome and all he has had to endure.   Samson came around one day for food with severe lacerations to his eye, face and ears due to an attack from another animal.  He was lucky to be alive and even luckier that my brother was able to trap him.  The first time I saw his face up close, I was shocked.  I'd never seen injuries so severe on a live animal.  I really didn't expect to be able to save his eye and at times I questioned whether he would survive. 
Ironically, had this unfortunate incident not happened to him, more than likely Samson would have remained homeless throughout the winter and possibly died a painful death.  Now he has a warm place to sleep, food to eat and someone to care for him.  It was a huge price to pay but unfortunately, despite a month of intense treatment and improved nutrition, the wounds to his eye were too severe and his eye will have to be surgically removed tomorrow.  I had so hoped to save his eye, but it was not meant to be and surgery had not seemed to be an option at the outset. 
However, sometimes you have to accept the inevitable. While initially the costs associated with such a complex surgery were out of reach, a compassionate, local veterinarian offered his services at a minimal fee, something which was totally unexpected and I am tremendously grateful for.
Nevertheless, Samson taught me a tremendous amount about the process of healing eye injuries and the rich symbolism associated with the eye.  It is the eye that detects and collects light from its surrounding environment and regulates the intensity of what it encounters.  The eye is an amazing organ which can sometimes becomes clouded by the mind and dark moments of fear which affect our judgment and outlook on life. 
As we approach the Winter Solstice on the 21st of December in the Northern Hemisphere, the day of the longest night, it will be my one year anniversary since I began Awen Environments and my subsequent blog.  So much has occurred not only within my own life, but also in the lives of those close to me and around the world.  I simply cannot look at life in the same manner and I'm grateful for the experiences that have come to pass.  There are so many lessons in adversity and viewing the sometimes seemingly dark moments of life. 
The new book  Planet Whispers: Wisdom from Soul Travelers from around the World   was released on December 3rd.  It is a collaboration with writers who have each expressed intimate aspects of their lives and spiritual experiences that have occurred as a result of their relationship with their homes, sacred places, and numerous locations in Nature around the globe.   Each writer has demonstrated their ability to draw from their connection to spirit and the healing powers of the Earth to move beyond personal challenges and even tragedies including the death of a partner, as well as the contemplation of suicide, to the planning and arrival of a newborn child. 
Their stories are ones of triumph and grace amidst difficult decisions and sometimes overwhelming obstacles.  Often these writers were traveling to new places to gain a different perspective while learning from the circumstances and experiences of others, as well as cultures different from their own. My own contribution is entitled Lady Muskoka: a Story of Healing and Renewal.   In this chapter I describe some of my mystical experiences at Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada where I spent my childhood vacations and I learned to release the ancestral patterns of my family, a place where I found personal challenges and tragedies can be transformed into experiences of learning and rebirth.
This blog and my participation in this book began because of a need to write about my experiences, circulate information, as well as discuss my view point about things that I felt to be unjust.   It also began because of the fact I had the time and I decided to make use of a challenging personal situation in a creative way.  There were occasions I questioned what I wrote, but I perservered beyond the self doubts and fears of my own making.  The Universe has interesting ways of pointing you in the right direction.  If you trust your inner guidance, the path will be revealed to you and seeming obstacles can be transformed.  While writing has always been something I enjoy, it eventually became a tool of transformation for me.
I have had over 11,000 visitors to my website in less than year with readers from around the world.  To my surprise, my largest supporting group is from the Ukraine and Russia, the lands of my ancestors;  the place where my father was born and my grandparents died due to political atrocities.  I do not believe this to be an accident as I know in my heart, the people of these lands are connecting to my writing in a heartfelt way, resonating with words that go beyond intellectual or rational explanation. I have also had a large following within my hometown of Lancaster, NY where I have come to terms with and learned to utilize, much of my past experiences.  Thank you to all  the many people both locally and from around the globe who have been visiting my site and reading my blog.  I hope that you will continue to read my stories and spread my messages of awakening around this planet.
Everywhere I see stories and challenges that people have had to go through, and yet inevitably good appears to come from these seemingly insurmountable obstacles and I believe ultimately to those situations that seem extreme or hopeless. 
The Occupy Movement has spread throughout this country and to other lands inspiring people everywhere to speak up for what they believe to be injustices within the status quo.  While many have endured violence, ridicule, and difficult circumstances, people have been inspired globally to stand up for what they believe in. 
My own family knows all too well the price of war and speaking up against intolerable circumstances,  and so I honor and support those who have the courage to stand up for the rights of others and for the wellbeing of this planet. Voices have  been given to those who are afraid to speak and people are listening. I have faith that good will eventually come out of all of the chaos and uncertainty of these times. 
"Tears are Nature's lotion for the eyes.  The eyes see better for being washed by them."  --Christian Nevel Bovee
There are people all around the globe who are currently fighting for a new paradigm, a new way of being that is in harmony with all of Nature and this planet.  Their tools are their words, their actions, and their indomitable will and spirit to bring change to this world.  And watch for the angels, for they are all among us in various guises.
This Winter Solstice, be reminded that miracles can come from adverse situations and give thanks for the many blessings you have in your life.  The blessings are there, you just need to look for them and discover the gift of sight
Winter Solstice Blessings!
For a beautiful perspective on the  Winter Solstice,  please view Minnie Kansman's article on this very yin (feminine) time of year.
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Eight Days with Aslan: a Lesson on Nutrition

Posted on November 10, 2011 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (47)
Aslan  (Turkish for lion) came to me in the Fall of 2008.  He was part of a late litter of kittens that had been born during the  Autumnal Equinox to a feral mother that I had been feeding.  I named him Aslan because he looked like a tiny lion and I wanted him to have a strong name like the character in The Chronicles of Narnia  novels by C.S. Lewis.
I knew that if I didn't trap these feral kittens soon and take them in, they probably wouldn't stand a chance during the harsh winter in Western New York that was forthcoming (click picture to view video on feral cats).   
I had Olivia, Aslan's mother spayed and took in the three kittens which I eventually all neutered through a local program called Feral Cat Focus  which seeks to help these homeless feral cats.  Their focus is on educating the public as to the problems that unneutered animals can create and provide a solution to controlling the numbers of homeless abandoned cats that create feral colonies.  They also want people to recognize that while some may see these cats as a nuisance, these homeless animals are in fact, providing a service to their local areas by keeping down the rodent populations.  Feral cats should also be treated humanely and not cruelly disposed of.  The key to these overpopulation problems lies with the former irresponsible owners, not with the animals themselves who are merely trying to survive given the circumstances they've been dealt.
I knew the timing of these kittens' birth was significant because the equinoxes are times of balance between light and darkness here on Earth, though it would take me 3 years to find out the message behind Aslan's coming into my lifeDespite his name and being feral, Aslan was always more sensitive and on the fragile side.  Because of his soft and particular nature he became very special to me.  He was also incredibly handsome with distinctive slanting eyes that made him look very exotic.  I've noticed this fragile nature quite frequently with the long haired cats.  There must be something in their bloodline that causes them to not be as hardy as other feral cats.  I'm absolutely certain now that Aslan would not have made it through that first winter, had I not taken him in.
One week after the tragic Zanesville massacre in Ohio and three days after I posted my  last blog  in which I made references to C.S. Lewis' character Aslan, my own Aslan collapsed suddenly.  There had been no real warning, except that I'd noticed his disinterest in food a few days before.  A trip to the vet confirmed that Aslan was severely anemic and possibly in the throes of feline leukemia.  I was devastated when the vet told me there was nothing that could be done except start him on a program of corticosteroids. 
Reluctantly I submitted Aslan to one injection, but after reading later about how harmful these treatments can be, I decided to discontinue the medication learning that it could essentially destroy an already weakened immune system.  I knew I was taking a risk, but I felt he would be better off if I discontinued in the beginning, rather than subjecting him to the daily pills only to find his immune system deteriorating as a result.
I've come to realize that conventional medicine's answer to many problems where there don't seem to be solutions, is to use corticosteroids.  They temporarily give a boost to the person or animal's immune system like a jump start and seemingly alleviate problematic symptoms, but in the long run they only further weaken an already compromised body. 
Holistic veterinarian Dr. Pitcairn discusses feline leukemia and other illnesses in his book, "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats."  He proposes improving the diet of your pet and feeding more raw foods including meats and vegetables, along with various nutritional supplements, as well as using cell salts  and homeopathy.  I knew that focusing on Aslan's nutrition was the only way to go which would hopefully strengthen his immune system and help him overcome his illness.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated....I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." ---Mahatma Gandhi
Interestingly, Aslan's collapse coincided with my reading of Jane Goodall's latest book "Harvest for Hope"  which discusses the importance of making better choices regarding the foods that we eat in order to improve our own health, help save the planet, as well as support and demand more humane treatment of farm animals.  I knew that this book was no coincidence. 
Many years ago, while attending a retreat at Farm Sanctuary  in Watkins Glen, NY I learned the awful truth about the corporate farm industry.  It's not a pretty sight and it was the reason I became a vegetarian again and have remained so for almost 20 years.  I simply could not eat any more animals that had suffered and endured under deplorable conditions.  The images stayed in my mind. Given what I eventually learned about energy, I came to realize that the consciousness of these abused animals would become my own and I am far too sensitive.  I also knew that all the toxic food (including ground up cattle) that was being fed to farm animals in conjunction with all the antibiotics they were injected with, ultimately was no way to treat my own body.  The same applies to our pets.
"The question is not, 'Can they reason?' nor, 'Can they talk?' but rather, 'Can they suffer?'" ---Jeremy Bentham (philosopher and animal rights activist)
Despite all that I learned so many years ago, I still was astounded at the truth and insights that Jane presented in her book regarding the food industry.  There was so much I had no idea of regarding GMO's and decisions based purely on profit by corporate interests, despite the devastating effects they would have on the human (and animal) population, as well as the destruction of this planet. 
If you read Jane's book, you will see that there are seemingly no limits as to what a corporation will do for the pure sake of profit.  Her book is a huge wake up call for all of us.  If we don't heed her warnings, it may be too late for us all, as life as we know it will cease to exist.  We simply do not have inexhaustible supplies of fresh water and cannot afford to further contaminate this planet with all the chemicals and animal sewage generated from factory farming (click picture above for information regarding your turkey dinner).
While I'm certain that Aslan carried inherited blood deficiencies within his body from the feral colony that he originated from, I'm fairly confident that had he been given a better, more healthy diet, he probably would have lived a much longer life.  Despite all I know about the farm and food industry, due to my financial constraints and the amount of animals I have rescued, I have been unable to provide the highest quality of food that I would like. When your responsibilities are high and you're doing what you can to save the animals that no one wants, you're lucky just to provide them with food and care.  
Nevertheless, Aslan's message to me was a strong one and I realized that all the commercial dry foods out there are not the best for our animal's health despite their convenience.  Cats and dogs simply aren't designed to eat dry food.  Most are filled with chemicals and offals from the meat industry from animals that have lived miserable lives.  And that carries forth into the bodies of your pets lowering their immune systems and manifesting the myriad of diseases they are afflicted with today.
Aslan's collapse, Jane's book and the subsequent things I learned during his last 8 days, taught me a valuable lesson.  It was time for me to change my own diet and that of my animals in whatever way I could manage because if I didn't, more than likely there would be more animal deaths to follow and possibly my own health could suffer. 
I immediately immersed myself in all my books about plant medicine, homeopathy and flower essences in order to turn Aslan's health around.  One of my favorite books is Juliette Bairacli de Levy's  "Common Herbs for Natural Health" in which she describes the medicinal uses of many plants found growing wild in our own backyards.  Juliette spent a lifetime working with medicinal plants and creating the holistic veterinary movement during which she wrote many books including a wonderful one for farm animals called "The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable" which is filled with useful information which can also be applied to our domestic pets.
I learned that I had many plants (and vegetables) easily accessible that were known to stimulate and purify the blood and counteract anemia including parsley, chives, lambs quarters (local wild plant), nettles, dandelion as well as strawberries and pumpkin.  Chamomile flower, which surprised me, is not only calming but also an anti-inflammatory.  I felt it would be a perfect replacement for the steroids because they would naturally realign the body.  I began making teas of various plants to give Aslan throughout the day.  I also took several of the nutritional plant foods and combined them with liver and fish oil or sardines which I pureed and syringed several times daily. I alternated with various cell salts, flower essences and the homeopathic remedy pulsatilla which I felt was appropriate because of Aslan's sensitive disposition.
While Aslan had initially become very cold and lifeless, gradually the warmth returned to his body and life was restored to his eyes.  He was once again able to urinate on his own and he began drinking water again.  He would actually jump up on my bed and sit there looking all regal and pleased as can be.  I became truly hopeful that he might recover fully.  However, despite his miraculous recovery, he still was not eating on his own and on the 7th day he collapsed yet again.  Apparently, his condition had progressed too far to be reversed permanently.  
I was devastated at facing his impending loss once again.  Unfortunately, often by the time you notice something wrong with your cat, it's usually too late.  Had I caught his condition earlier, the outcome might have been different.  Though I made several more attempts to feed Aslan, I could tell it was time to let him make his transition.
So, on that last day I kept Aslan comfortable and supplied with fluids as I watched his awareness diminish and felt him getting ready to leave his body. I know that I could have had him euthanized the day of the vet's appointment, but I will never regret the decision I made to try and help him recover both for the amount of knowledge that I gained and also the valuable, quality time that I spent with Aslan during the last 8 days of his life.  I know we developed a special heart connection that could only have been established under such extreme circumstances given the many animals in my care.  This last week was for Aslan and I will never forget his will to live, his resilience and the loving companionship that he gave me right until the end.  His passing was peaceful in his own home and on his own terms.
Many years ago, an Abysinnian cat I had rescued and named Simba was diagnosed with a heart condition and asthma despite his young age of 3.  I knew nothing at the time of alternative methods of healing and so I followed the vet's recommendation to give him heart medication and corticosteroids.  He took constant daily medication and still was prone to bouts of asthma attacks.  The day he suffered a severe attack, I struggled to get his medication in his mouth and I'll never forget the look on his face-- it was as if to tell me "no more."  I rushed him to the emergency clinic only to have them tell me they had placed him in an oxygen tent and a decision had to be made immediately to end his life. 
The last time I saw Simba, he was struggling to breathe with a forlorn look of fear in his eyes for the unfamiliar surroundings.  I always regretted my choices and wished I had known then what I know now because I would have done things very differently.  And while the final outcome would have been the same, I know the quality of Simba's life (and death) would have been significantly better.  This time I had the opportunity to make the right choice for Aslan.  Different cats, but the similarities between their personalities and the situations were there.
At the time of this writing, Olivia (Aslan's mother) and his brother and sister, Indigo and Violet, remain in good health.  In memory of Aslan born feral September 22, 2008 died a member of our family November 2, 2011.  You are in our hearts... 
Thanksgiving Blessings to All!
2011 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Animals: Our Divine Companions and Co-Creators

Posted on October 22, 2011 at 10:42 AM Comments comments (2)
I seem to always be inspired to write when something tragic happens whether in my own life or something I've heard about.  This article is no exception.  As I write these words the tears well up again as I recall the tragedy that occurred this week.  I feel a tremendous sense of loss concerning the  massacre of exotic wild animals  that happened in Zanesville, Ohio, something that goes beyond anything personal that I can attribute it too. 
We may never know what possessed Terry Thompson to release the animals in his care or take his own life, but I would like to believe that, overwhelmed with his responsibilities both financial and physical, he could only give these animals one last chance at freedom.  I believe the burden of caring for so many exotic animals became too much and he could see no way out of his dilemma.  I'm certain that he made mistakes, but I can only hope that a greater good can come out of all of this and that some have chosen to die so that others may live. For now the hearts and spirits of these animals are free from the mental, physical and emotional constraints that man had put on them for so much of their lives.
I am reminded of these words from one of my favorite children's movie:
"When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." 
-- Aslan from the movie The Chronicles of Narnia
The traitors are those who profit from animal misery in any industry.  I think that events like the story in Zanesville are perhaps the only thing that will wake up humanity to the suffering and plight of animals in captivity.  This story is tragic in so many ways because these animals were either bred in captivity or taken from their homes in the wild in order to be someone's playthings.  Terry had apparently found most of these exotic animals at auctions and was willing to give them a home.  It was a daunting task that should be required of no man.  People had tired of their responsibilities and so left them to another.  It's a familiar story whether its a wild lion or a domestic cat. In the end, the last caretaker of these magnificent animals freed them into an unfamiliar world and took his own life out of desperation. 
Though believed to be based on public safety, no doubt the decisions made during the 18th and 19th of October were based on fear, control and a lack of understanding of the value of creatures of this magnitude. Of course there was danger to the public at large, but couldn't the town have been issued warnings to stay inside until these animals had been properly tranquilized and transferred to other centers?
To senselessly kill a majestic lion or rare bengal tiger or a beautiful wolf is unfathomable to me.  The fact that those who shot these creatures appeared to sense no remorse and did not question authority is so alien to my own philosophy of life and the respect that I hold for these creatures.  This event is truly a sad statement of the lack of emotions and apathy found within our society with regard to animals in general. Or perhaps some of those who so willingly shot these magnificent beings were filled with excitement similar to those who mercilessly kill lions and other animals in canned hunting situations.  What thrill could there possibly be in taking down such a magnificent being?  I will never understand. 
While there's no question that there are many, many people who truly honor and value animal life, still so many animals are held in tortuous captivity around the world for entertainment at the whim of man, as well as kept in unhealthy and inhumane conditions to supply our countries with food, not to mention all the domestic animals that get abandoned on a daily basis around the world when they become a burden.  A perfect example are the streets of the Ukraine where a culling is now being done of homeless cats and dogs that are being hoarded into  traveling crematoriums  where the animals are burned alive in order to clean the streets and prepare for a 2012 soccer tournament.  I can only imagine that the general population does not agree with this government action and is appalled at what is taking place.
This weeks tragedy came right after I had completed an amazing book called  Mystery of the White Lions, Children of the Sun God  by Linda Tucker who lives in South Africa and has created the Global White Lions Protection Trust to protect and restore these majestic rare beings to their sacred homelands in Timbavati.  The book is filled with insights into the origins of man, geomancy relating to the sacredness of the land along the Nile River reaching from Timbavati to Egypt, and the lessons that the sacred white lions have come to teach us as messengers of a time and a knowledge long forgotten.  After reading this book and hearing of the tragedy in Ohio, I was even more profoundly affected by this senseless loss and the necessity for all of us to change our relationship with the Animal Kingdom before it is too late.
I truly believe that if we all knew what took place within animal shelters, factory farms, circuses, etc. and within other countries we would all make different choices in our lives with regard to the food that we eat, what we chose as entertainment and whether or not we'll carelessly drop off those kittens and puppies that were so cute when they were born, but we unfortunately could not find a home for.  I have written before of the plight of domestic cats left to their own demise who eventually create overpopulated feral colonies.  It is truly a sad sight to see with countless exhausted females constantly breeding and many late born kittens faced with a brutal winters in areas like Western New York.
For many of us, animals are our companions.  They comfort us during times of stress or sorrow and they also take on many of the emotional issues we are challenged with, often taking on the illnesses or diseases that their human companions have acquired.  Cats, for example, experience all the diseases that humans do.  I am told that one local holistic veterinarian in our area is overwhelmed with the sick animals that are brought to her and simply cannot keep up with the demand.  What are these animals telling us?  The Earth is sick, our animals are sick and so is much of mankind.  Animals have been put on this Earth to be our companions, to help us and guide us through so many things.  They are not put here to solely be our food, our toys or our beasts of burden. 
There have been many references to seemingly unusual relationships that humans have had with animals both recent and throughout history.  Is the archetypal feral child of the story Tarzan who was raised by apes so implausible?  There have been many true stories about abandoned children that have been raised by animals in the wild.  Perhaps it's time we give animals a different perspective and not see them as creatures over whom we have dominion and are inferior to us, but as beings with similar emotions, instincts and wisdom to that of humans.  I believe we have much to learn from all of them.  Kevin Richardson's groundbreaking work as  The Lion Whisperer  in South Africa is a perfect example of the possibilities that exist when man collaborates with animals.  His work with families of lions goes beyond what we as humans have thought to be possible.  His love for animals began with the tiniest of creatures when he was a child.
This relationship that we have with the animals starts at the ground up from the tiniest of creatures in our own backyard to the king of the beasts, the lion in the wild lands of Africa.  It also includes the food that we eat.  If everyone were to see the many forms of animal suffering, perhaps they would think twice about where they buy their food or using rat poison or spraying their lawn with chemicals. Secondary poisoning  is a significant cause of health problems and/or death of cats and dogs who have come into contact with poisoned mice, birds and other animals.  Not to mention the birds of prey and other predators it can kill.  I have witnessed one of my cats go through an agonizing death due to what I suspected was poisoning from a neighboring property and believe me it is heartbreaking to watch.  No animal should have to die that way.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to witness the suffering of a mouse that had found its way in my gardens.  It kept running in circles around my flowers and never strayed far from me so I knew it had somehow come into contact with some form of poison, probably pesticides from a neighboring property.  I decided to catch him so that he wouldn't be eaten by other wildlife, thereby creating secondary poisoning. 
I never thought I would witness what I did during the last 6 days of this creature's life.  Because I value the life of all creatures and do not kill anything, I gave this mouse a remedy for poisoning hoping it might turn the situation around.  Although initially I was hopeful, eventually the poison ran its full course and the little mouse went through convulsions arching its head and neck and falling over constantly.  It was truly a heartbreaking sight to see because I knew this little guy was trying to live.  In the end all I could do was give him a safe place to die and some kindness, which most people wouldn't have done.  As a wildlife rehabilitator for many years, I do not make judgments as to what animal life has more value.
Until we realize that all of our choices and actions have consequences, many times unseen and unknown, we will continue to have suffering on this planet by those very creatures who are here to help balance the energies of the planet, be our companions and bring beauty and wisdom into this world.
"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."
--excerpt from "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" based on C.S. Lewis' book "The Chronicles of Narnia" 
Blessings of Awareness from the Animal Kingdom!
This article is dedicated to the 49 animals that lost their lives in Zanesville, Ohio, USA between October 18-19, 2011.  May their deaths not have been in vain and may their spirits roam free once again in their homelands.
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.