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     Awen Environments

                                                inspirational living arts

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What My Gardens Have Taught Me

Posted on June 23, 2016 at 2:15 PM Comments comments ()
My gardens have evolved so much over time and taught me a great deal about life and myself. Gone is the need to control everything in a precise, neat manner. I have found that when I set my intention by planting my desires and allow Nature to unfold her deep wisdom and artistry, sometimes the most amazing landscapes can appear. At times you need to be patient when nothing seems to be happening or when things are not quite as organized or beautiful as you would like, but the results will always surpass your limited view of things.

Nature is always giving us direction and guiding us through subtle and sometimes blatant messages. It's up to us to interpret these messages and act accordingly. Very often I have used gardening methods that did not seem to make rational sense, but intuitively felt like the right thing to do. Navigating our life path can be the same way. It's up to us to follow our instincts and put together the pieces of the puzzle. Over time as a garden grows and develops through loving attention and care, our vision manifests into reality.

If I had chosen to control every aspect of my gardens and use traditional gardening methods such as eliminating all weeds, which essentially is anything I did not intend, I would have missed out on the true beauty and healing power that Nature is capable of. I would have missed all the unexpected flowers that suddenly appeared or the unexpected caterpillar, bird or butterfly that suddenly graced my gardens because of these so-called "weeds". I would have missed out on the moments of shear Divine inspiration that I received when viewing my gardens in a certain morning light or after a gentle, nurturing rain. I would have missed out on the unexpected flowers which would heal me simply through their fragrance or presence in the soil that I had never imagined.

Gardening with Nature is a process that evolves over time. It is a test of faith that leads us in the right direction if we allow it to. It is an intuitive process that guides us step by step, year by year to discover our boundaries by eliminating that which we don't want, trusting that Nature knows more than we do and following the guidance that you receive through what you see, feel and experience. Sometimes you have to just follow your heart, despite what others may think.

It requires spending time just being in your gardens without doing, sensing the energy of space and how it makes you feel. It requires opening up all your senses. It is a collaborative process that teaches you where you feel uncomfortable, what your body is telling you and what all the beings of Nature are telling you including the ones you may not feel comfortable with or understand. Insects are very finely tuned to our energetic vibrations and will let you know when they are disturbed by you and also when they are in harmony with you.

Sometimes you have to allow a process to unfold despite the discomfort you may feel. Sometimes you just have to allow a little bit of ugliness to unfold in the form of aphids congregating on your flowers, a wasp carrying off a caterpillar, a spider entangling her victim in her web or a flower to go through her dying process without needing to cut her off once her beauty is gone. A garden is never perfect. She has her moments of glorious beauty and vibrancy and she has her days when she may be wilting and seem weak or very little appears to be in bloom. But overall, if you trust in the process and allow this process to unfold, you know that over time everything will come together and each year your garden will be that much stronger, that much more vibrant and that much more grounded and healthy.

If you allow Nature to take her course and you allow your inherent creativity to unfold, you will receive unexpected visitors that you never imagined. There's something really powerful about allowing. There's a point where the Earth dances with the light of the Sun and the Moon and everything comes together and sparkles vibrantly telling you that everything is exactly as it should be and all is well. It's a knowing that comes from deep within your heart and soul that tells you everything is going to be alright despite whatever turmoil or dissonance may surround you. Its a deep faith in the process of life that carries you through the discomforting moments of doubt, feelings of fear or uncertainty that occasionally (or maybe too often) rear themselves once more in your life just when you'd thought they had gone.

I am truly confident that if more people took up gardening and grew their own flowers or vegetables and aligned themselves with the healing powers available to us within all living things, this world would be a different place. Take time to see the beauty that is all around us in so many sweet, tender moments.

Solstice Blessings!

2016 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Cats as Guides and Allies in Transformation

Posted on February 5, 2016 at 4:47 PM Comments comments ()
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 ()
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.


Gardening with Faith

Posted on August 3, 2014 at 11:59 AM Comments comments ()
As my gardens continue to grow and evolve, my own faith and belief in my creativity and knowledge, as well as path in life, is challenged. This year has been a strange one with a very long, hard winter followed by an unusual spring and summer. One moment it seems normal and the next it's totally out of character with extreme high or low temperatures and weather patterns.

In my area, the flowers seem to be about a month behind their normal cycles. I have lost many plants and shrubs this year and some plants seem stunted or never bloomed at all. It's all very odd and it reflects my own inner feelings at times. Sometimes things seem clear to me and other times they are muddled. One moment I want to forge ahead with my plans and the next I feel I have to be cautious or I change my plans completely. And sometimes I have gone ahead with plans although the timing did not seem good or it did not seem rational or logical. That is when I trusted my heart and my instincts despite what appeared around me.

I lost both of my honeybee hives over the winter due to the extreme cold and I really missed them. The bees have been tremendously challenged too with some beekeepers around the US losing up to 75% of their hives this past winter. The bees are so vital and important to our own wellbeing that it is very disheartening and alarming to know this. Everyone and every thing is being challenged it seems.

There was such a difference in the energy of the land and gardens without the honey bees around. Now I have them back with a newly developing hive of different honeybees and I sense the difference they make in the gardens. These new bees are from another beekeeper and location. They are much calmer and easier to work with than those I had previously, reflecting an energy of peace and balance that is descending upon this land. I sense that their very nature is different  and to a degree reflects the care and respect of the beekeeper that they came from.

I had a feeling that the loss of my beehives was a sign of things to come but little did I know. I also lost my mother this past year to cancer and that was totally unexpected. It happened very suddenly and very quickly. There was no time to change the course of anything. That put a totally different perspective on my life and a need to anchor and heal within my gardens and look at those aspects of myself that I wanted to release or improve. My gardens have offered me solitude when everything seemed to be chaotic and swirling around me or leaving me. They have brought me beauty and color during moments of despair and anger. They have infused me with their healing gifts both visually and spiritually as their renewal and resiliency reflected my own need to move forward. It has been a long road and one in which I have constantly reflected on the meaning and purpose of my own life.

I see in my gardens how Nature's hand paints a new color or design when I allow it to be itself and take it's own course rather than constantly trying to control it's path or destiny. So many surprises occur when you allow things to just be and take their own course with only a guiding hand to maintain borders and boundaries, eliminating only that which does not seem in alignment with your vision or your sense of balance.

It's not always easy but sometimes you just have to have faith that you will come to see the results of your intentions which may just turn out far better than you had imagined. Faith seems to be the key as sometimes it is the only thing that keeps you going when all around you is chaos and uncertainty.

Blessings of Faith!


2014 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.








Snowflake's Story: a Look at Aconite

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM Comments comments ()
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 ()
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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bee Swarming: a Message of Rebirth

Posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:10 PM Comments comments ()
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 comments ()
Sometimes it's hard to see the progress we've made when we're constantly putting out fires or simply trying to get through our daily routine of responsibilities.  As humans, we seem to always focus on what still needs to be accomplished, rather than what is.  I think it's vital, however, to reflect periodically on what you've accomplished and take the time to truly see the progress that's been made from several years back, a year ago or even a few months ago.
 
I know I have to do this on occasion to remind myself of how the energy of my landscape has shifted and how much I've changed in my awareness. Despite the heavy rains we've been experiencing in our area this year and the accompanying flooding and frustration it can create, I'm constantly reminded of how when we first moved to our home just over  three years ago, there was barely a flower in sight, 
 
Now we have gardens everywhere and many new trees and plants are starting to anchor a new life force on this land.  They are also transmuting the toxins that existed in the soil that once smelled rancid.  All the white pine and fir trees that had existed when we arrived, were either dead or dying due to excessively wet land and an imbalance of energies.  Now when I walk through our backyard, I feel like I'm in a wildlife sanctuary or tiny park.  As a gardener, I'm constantly thinking about what still needs to be done or re-arranged, although so much has healed.  I'm also proud of what I've accomplished in so little time.  We've also just installed our second bee hive, after catching a swarm the other day.  The vibrancy that these little beings bring to the landscape is visually apparent in the difference from last year to now.  I also love seeing them busy in our gardens, knowing how they are enlivening the land and our lives.
 
My gardens have been such a metaphor for my life in so many ways. They have grown with me, struggled with me and portions have died at times, just as I have died to my former self and sought new ways of being, discarding what was no longer useful or part of my awareness.  I have also had to make choices as to what I chose to keep in my garden and where my boundaries are.  Weeding has become a way of eliminating all that which I no longer need in my environment.  While I don't believe in the noun weed as they are only plants that are unfamiliar or unwanted to most people (a very individual concept), I do believe in the verb of weeding and I realize how it becomes symbolic for caring for yourself and what you've created.  This year has been all about maintenance and creating balance, whereas in previous years, I was totally focused on creation.
 
The first half of this year has already been filled with challenges which, while I was going through them, exhausted me sometimes to the point of overwhelm. Nevertheless, as time passed I came to see the value of those experiences and how they taught me to express my boundaries, see things in a new way or persevere despite the physical and emotional exhaustion I was feeling. These moments can be priceless sources of inspiration and transmutation, if you allow them to be.  My gardens have been my source of solace when I felt filled with anger, despair or sheer overwhelm.  Just the sounds of the birds and seeing the grasses swaying in the breeze, has often brought me back to a point of stillness and knowing that all is well and exactly the way it should be in this moment. 
 
And just as sometimes you have to allow a garden to do it's own thing and trust that Nature knows the direction she's taking, you also have to believe that the direction you're being lead in and the challenges you face are preparing you for better things.  Moments spent appreciating your landscape also build a solid foundation for the energy of your land, as it is a co-creative process requiring our individual efforts and the collaboration of Nature.  We cannot always see the results of our actions, but it is our intention that matters.  Our mistakes will be overlooked or reflected back to us so that we can learn what we need to in order to make different choices next time.  Gardening is such a great way to see and experience what works and what doesn't-- what feels right and what is uncomfortable and no longer in resonance.  This is a continual process of shedding layers like peeling an onion and it is part of the changes this planet is going through.
 
Despite what at times may seem like an endless battle in this changing world, it's so important to spend time viewing your accomplishments from a point of reverence. The world is moving so fast now that it's easy to overlook what stands before you, but take the time to truly feel and know how your environment has changed.  Feel the vibrancy of that which has healed and that which is in transition.  Know that despite the fact there may still be challenges for the future and things to overcome, so much has transitioned and healed throughout this planet and continues to do so. 
 
Our efforts do not go unseen and despite their seeming futility at times, it is the intention and the process that matters in the overall scheme of things. To me, nothing is more gratifying than to see a landscape transform, whether an indoor or outdoor environment or that which is our own sense of being. Cherish your accomplishments and your efforts for they do matter.
 
Blessings of Inspiration!
 
2013 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Three Moments: a Story of Transition

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM Comments comments ()
 
"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 ()
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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