A Nested Story: Transformative Healing

The following article was recently published in Psychologica Magazine’s special edition on Trauma.  I’ve included a link to the full magazine, lots of great articles on trauma treatments, both from a clinical perspective as well as personal.  Hope you might find something that resonates.

http://www.oaccpp.ca/assets/Psychologica%20Vol.%2041%20Final%20(DIGITAL)%20compressed.pdf
Trauma and Art Therapy Article copy (dragged)Trauma and Art Therapy Article copy (dragged) 1

if this were a map

collage illustration

In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand

there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see

or the child’s older self, a poet,

a woman dreaming when she should be typing

the last report of the day. If this were a map,

she thinks, a map laid down to memorize

because she might be walking it, it shows

ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert

here and there a sign of aquifers

and one possible watering‐hole. If this were a map

it would be the map of the last age of her life,

not a map of choices but a map of variations

on the one great choice. It would be the map by which

she could see the end of touristic choices,

of distances blued and purpled by romance,

by which she would recognize that poetry

isn’t revolution but a way of knowing

why it must come. If this cheap,

mass‐produced wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,

mass‐produced yet durable, being here now,

is what it is yet a dream‐map

so obdurate, so plain,

she thinks, the material and the dream can join

and that is the poem and that is the late report.

Dreamwood

a poem by Adrienne Rich

October/November 1987

Bird Time

Slippery Elm

a children’s book…

3 young sisters

plant a small elm tree

in their backyard.

Through the years…

the three sisters begin to realize

that the elm tree,

is their home.

The sisters see…

that the elm tree

remains with them…

watching over the 3 sisters

marking milestones

and holding time…

a tree of life…

As the 3 sisters grow

old…

with their tree.

a synopsis of a story by Nora Sommerdorf

“An Elm Tree and Three Sisters”

blue and red

twoBetween…

spirit and matter…

a blue painted feather.

Flying red…

paper worlds

and words

not read

2

birds.

“…think of the bird as a teacher.  Approach it with curiosity and patience, as if it were the most important thing right now.  you do not have to worry about getting it to do something.  The bird invents itself and is not dependent on our conscious egos.  We must give it our time and space, though, if we wish to learn from it.  Allow it to move and change as it desires.  You may have the wish to ask it questions, as that is our usual method of finding out about things.  Sometimes images do talk, but not always.  The important thing is to realize though that it already is what it can convey.  The image is a complete statement in and of itself”.

Mary Watkins, Waking Dreams, pg. 109

Bird’s Children

birdchildren

Children

born between words

holding jeweled feathers.

Left facing ruby

suspended…

a bird’s eye view

of rec-tangled flags

hanging on

a wing

and a prayer.

 

 

Time Watching Bird

time watching bird

A bird.

Rests.

Blue water nest.

Enveloped in words.

Feeling feathers, string and steel.

Waiting and weighted.

Spinning a web,

a mandala,

as birds watch

Time.

 

 

 

 

bright yellow shadows

yellowcanary

Birds Appearing In A Dream

One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi,
another a tail of color-coded wires.
One was a blackbird stretching orchid wings,
another a flicker with a wounded head.

All flew like leaves fluttering to escape,
bright, circulating in burning air,
and all returned when the air cleared.
One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower,

deep in the ground, miles from water.
Everything is real and everything isn’t.
Some had names and some didn’t.
Named and nameless shapes of birds,

at night my hand can touch your feathers
and then I wipe the vernix from your wings,
you who have made bright things from shadows,
you who have crossed the distances to roost in me.

by Michael Collier

 

Remember to forget

remember

For me art shouldn’t be a fixed idea that I have before I start making it. I want it to include all the fragility and doubt that I go through the day with. Sometimes I’ll take a walk just to forget whatever good idea I had that day because I like to go into the studio not having any ideas. I want the insecurity of not knowing, like performers feel before a performance. Everything I can remember, and everything I know, I have probably already done, or somebody else has

Robert Rauschenburg (1925-), American artist, quoted by Michael Kimmelman in an article about Rauschenburg, New York Times, “Arts & Leisure” section 2, August 27, 2000, p. 26.

Remembering and forgetting are key parts to the incubation stage of creative process. Images and/or ideas found in the foraging and gathering stage begin to simmer and cook.  In this chaotic broth, knowledge remembered is then forgotten, or let go of.  This alchemical creative process is transformational, allowing something new to emerge.

Once an experience is understood, remembering and forgetting is possible.  This transformative process of memory allows new learning, as well as a flexible and adaptive response to life.

Lost and Found

lost and found

The Little House of Lost Play (Mar Vanwa Tyalieva) by J. R. R. Tolkien

We knew that land once, You and I,
and once we wandered there
in the long days now long gone by,
a dark child and a fair.
Was it on the paths of firelight thought
in winter cold and white,
or in the blue-spun twilit hours
of little early tucked-up beds
in drowsy summer night,
that you and I in Sleep went down
to meet each other there,
your dark hair on your white nightgown
and mine was tangled fair?

We wandered shyly hand in hand,
small footprints in the golden sand,
and gathered pearls and shells in pails,
while all about the nightengales
were singing in the trees.
We dug for silver with our spades,
and caught the sparkle of the seas,
then ran ashore to greenlit glades,
and found the warm and winding lane
that now we cannot find again,
between tall whispering trees.

The air was neither night nor day,
an ever-eve of gloaming light,
when first there glimmered into sight
the Little House of Play.
New-built it was, yet very old,
white, and thatched with straws of gold,
and pierced with peeping lattices
that looked toward the sea;
and our own children’s garden-plots
were there: our own forgetmenots,
red daisies, cress and mustard,
and radishes for tea.
There all the borders, trimmed with box,
were filled with favourite flowers, with phlox,
with lupins, pinks, and hollyhocks,
beneath a red may-tree;
and all the gardens full of folk
that their own little language spoke,
but not to You and Me.

For some had silver watering-cans
and watered all their gowns,
or sprayed each other; some laid plans
to build their houses, little towns
and dwellings in the trees.
And some were clambering on the roof;
some crooning lonely and aloof;
some dancing round the fairy-rings
all garlanded in daisy-strings,
while some upon their knees
before a little white-robed king
crowned with marigold would sing
their rhymes of long ago.
But side by side a little pair
with heads together, mingled hair,
went walking to and fro
still hand in hand; and what they said,
ere Waking far apart them led,
that only we now know

Looking into the Open

Looking

The Open

With their whole gaze

animals behold the Open.

Only our eyes

are as though reversed

and set like traps around us,

keeping us inside.

That there is something out there

we know only from the creatures’ countenance.

We turn even the young child around,

making her look backward

at the forms we create,

not outward into the Open.

R.M. Rilke, from the Eighth Duino Elegy

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