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inspirational living arts
What My Gardens Have Taught Me
|Posted on June 23, 2016 at 2:15 PM||comments (44)|
Cats as Guides and Allies in Transformation
|Posted on February 5, 2016 at 4:47 PM||comments (7)|
Remembering Charlotte: Message from an Orbweaver
|Posted on November 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (10)|
As 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.
Gardening with Faith
|Posted on August 3, 2014 at 11:59 AM||comments (0)|
Snowflake's Story: a Look at Aconite
|Posted on January 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM||comments (39)|
Bee Feng Shui: the Energy of Space
|Posted on September 7, 2013 at 11:01 AM||comments (4)|
Bee Swarming: a Message of Rebirth
|Posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (10)|
This morning I went out to check my original beehive and found that half of the bees had swarmed with the old queen. The steady streams of workers were no longer there, though I could still see bees inside the hive. Although I never witnessed the swarm, I knew something had changed and I felt like a piece of me had gone with the bees. It had been over a year since they had arrived and interestingly, today is a new moon in my sun sign of Leo. Somehow I cannot see this as a coincidence, as my birthday is also next week.
This original hive was my initiation into the realm of bees. They taught me how to overcome my fears through working with the hive, they taught me about the mistakes I made along the way (and there were many) and they taught my son and me how to develop a love and respect for beekeeping, though it is not an easy art as it requires time, patience and dedication to get it right. It truly is about being a steward and developing a relationship with the bees and not about 'having' or exploiting them. Had I known how much it entailed, I probably would never have gotten involved. It's like that with many things in life, but in your heart you know that what you're doing is what you're supposed to be doing and you continue because a love gradually ensues and it envelopes you as each day your relationship grows and you look forward to it's existence and you can no longer imagine life without this passion.
The bees have become my allies in so many ways. They have taught me my priorities, how to conquer my fears and how to be prepared during these tumultuous times. Each step along the way has been like a milestone toward a better awareness of the beehive and how it functions in unison as one being comprised of many collaborators each fulfilling an important role. Though I'm saddened by the loss of half of my bees from my original hive, I am also happy and concerned for their welfare as they venture out into the unknown searching for a new home. I'm told they have three days to find one, otherwise they perish.
Gunther Hauk explains this process so well in his book "Toward Saving the Honeybee." Contrary to what has been done in the last century and the ways of modern beekeeping practices that often seek to exploit the honeybee, swarming is a natural process that is necessary to maintain the well being and vitality of the hive. Ironically, just when everything is fine at home, the food is stocked and the bees might be able to rest on their laurels, a new queen is created and half of the colony leaves with the old queen in search of a new home.
This is in sharp contrast to what we as humans strive for and live out during our existence on this planet. And yet, perhaps the bees' message is even more relevant during these times of upheaval and change-- searching out into the unknown, into territory that is at times both exhilarating and terrifying not knowing what you will find. Simply knowing that this is how it needs to be. Gunther Hauk and Rudolf Steiner talk about the swarming of bees as a rebirth of the hive. In essence it truly is when you understand the complexities and perfection that exist within a honeybee colony.
Interestingly, the swarming of my bees was part of a series of experiences I had involving both my original hive and a second hive that I acquired as a result of a swarm that we captured one evening hanging from one of our pine trees. At the time, I thought this swarm was my own, but later I came to see that it had probably been from a nearby property that also had bees, as I could tell that my original hive was still intact and the bees in the second hive were much more docile.
So, this past weekend I had to correct a mistake that I had made with my second hive-- that of not being prepared. I did not have additional beekeeping supplies ready in the event of a swarm and so when it happened, I was scrambling to put things together having to borrow supplies from a mentor friend and buy new ones. Because the main hive box was not my own, I would eventually have to switch this out with my own and that's what I did this weekend with trepidation because it meant taking everything apart and reorganizing the bees by myself. I had to do it alone because my son was away on a trip and my mentor was also unavailable.
What ensued was rather complex and unexpected. Amidst opening the hive and seeing the queen for the first time since I had begun beekeeping, I was so intensely focused on what I was doing and keeping the queen and workers safe, that I completely lost track of time. I became one with the beehive. They were part of me and I was part of them. It was as though I had gone on a shamanic journey, though I did not set out with this intention. Yes, I was functioning as a normal human being going through the activities of beekeeping, but at some point which I think was upon encountering the queen, I went into an altered state of consciousness and remember little from what happened thereafter. I just know that when I had everything rearranged and reassembled, I had no recollection of many of the things that I had done. As I spent time in my gardens, for several hours thereafter, I could not remember what exactly had happened to me.
Simon Buxton talks about altered states of consciousness achieved while working with bees in his book "The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters." It is a profound book and one that at times is difficult to conceptualize and understand, if you have not experienced anything similar. It is nevertheless, a delving into the mystical and complex world of bees that we as humans have yet to understand fully. Though I do believe that ancient cultures once understood the honeybee much better than we do today. The honeybee has long been revered for its ability to work in such complex unison and produce such a 'nectar of the Gods' from within it's own body via the perfection of Nature and the beauty, complexities and high vibration of flowers.
I have spent a great deal of time observing the bees in my gardens and I can say that the relationship that exists between bee and flower is truly a love affair as I have ever seen. The fervor with which the bees gather pollen and nectar is really quite interesting to observe as they both depend on one another for their very existence-- the bee to create honey to feed its queen and colony, and the flower to perpetuate it's life cycle. What can we as humans create, if our very survival depends on it?
And so, my experiences with the bees have come full circle. I have experienced the joy of capturing a new swarm to create yet another hive to pollinate our gardens and offer us the rich golden rewards of honey-- gifts of which I have given to family, friends and neighbors. And I have also experienced the sudden anguish and sadness over losing part of a hive due to my inability to attend to the needs of the hive in a timely manner by not providing them with adequate space for their colony.
Did I error greatly by not putting on another hive box in a timely manner or was the rebirth of the original hive meant to be to serve as a signpost for a new life that is beginning for all of us-- the bees on their journey with their beloved queen and I having completed a year of honeybee stewardship and many, many years of healing the lands where I have lived, ready to face what new surprises lie before me in this ever changing world.
Blessings on Your Journey!
2013 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
A Look Back: Taking Inventory of Your Landscape
|Posted on June 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM||comments (0)|
Three Moments: a Story of Transition
|Posted on January 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM||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 (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.
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