Category Archives: labyrinth

The Past

Seminar over and the program begins. A “Last Supper” of a favourite comfort food. Chicken rice with corn and mixed mushrooms and a heavy handed splash of extra hot chilli. ….. and some red wine to finish off with. All foods (except the chicken) off the menu until I have completed the program and am at a comfortable goal weight.

the past is the pastEmotionally, I am exhausted as part of the program is to look at emotional triggers and to let them go. Meditating and journaling since Saturday evening, I have been surprised at what has popped up. Events long forgotten and the associated beliefs and emotions that surround them.  Next to burn that list….. I will add to it in the coming week, and take it into the centre of the labyrinth at the retreat when I next go there to burn it in that safe, calm space at the centre of the labyrinth in that safe and calm space, thereby releasing any attachments to the events to the universe with gratitude and emerging no longer carrying the burdens of the past.

A new mantra…. “The past is the past. Let it go and focus on NOW.”

What is the past anyway? A memory. An imagination based on our perception. My perception of an event as a child would be different to another’s memory of the same event and would also depend on age related cognitive skills and interpretation.

Today I have set aside some time to do a Chakra Cleanse, working through the Chakras from Base to Crown using meditation with some shamanic music. Interestingly I coughed all through the Throat Chakra meditation …. more work to do!

Release and Surrender

Recently I drew 2 cards – one was an oracle card that said “Release and Surrender” from Doreen Virtue’s Daily Guidance from Your Angels and the second was 7 of Cups from the Rider Waite Tarot. Usually I keep my personal readings to myself, but today I’m sharing.

The first card has the words “We shower you with blessings of our radiant love. Open your arms, and release the challenges that you’ve held tightly gripped within your hands. Open your hands, arms and heart to our love and assistance.”

“So what?” you might say and if you are not into cards, synchronicity read no further. For me this has some significance…. it’s the 5th time this particular card has come up at random for me recently. My belief system is that I’m being tapped on the shoulder to listen to the message.

The second card came with a few interpretations. The first was “Among many options choose the one closest to your heart” and to use dreams and imagination to create a different future. The second interpretation was that the querent (me) might be building too many castles in the air and it’s time to sort out truth from fiction. A third interpretation was that this card represents limitless possibilities and potential and a need to focus on the future directions. Which interpretation to pay heed to?

Today, I’m starting the process of releasing and surrender to the limitless possibilities that the universe offers…….

How’s your Mercury Retrograde going?

What does Mercury Retrograde mean?

  • 3 times a year Mercury orbits Earth and appears to move backward
  • Each of these periods lasts about 3 weeks
  • Many believe that during this time problems will occur with communication, transport, technology and more

However Mercury doesn’t go backwards….. that’s an illusion.  And likewise this period can be a very positive time if you set your mind to it, because when you focus on the negative….that’s what you’ll get.

If you would like to use the Spiral Path (or 7 Ring Cretan labyrinth) to reset during this time you can download the PDF  Spiral Path – Mercury Retrograde by clicking the hyperlink.

Coaching vs Counselling

What suits you?

Both have advantages and disadvantages, but having received sessions in both, I feel that the coaching model is more effective.

With coaching you don’t need to stay stuck in our stories, in fact the coach often doesn’t even need to hear your story, just where and how you want to move forward. Combined with some NLP (neuro linguistic programming) techniques and a little Hypnotherapy, personally I have found that amazing changes can be made with a minimum of fuss (and no snotty tissues…… bonus!)

Athletes have been using coaches for decades to improve their performance and there is a growing number of people using coaching for various other pursuits. Many executives and business owners have a business coach, singers have a voice coach and there are other niches such as health coaching and of course, Emotional Intelligence coaching.

However, for certain people, counselling interventions such as CBT are really valuable in changing thoughts and behaviours over a longer period of time. Most importantly, the rapport you have with your coach or counsellor is the defining factor in the success of your session.

Boundaries

A recent workshop that I had the pleasure to deliver was about Boundaries – Personal and Professional. 30 people were booked to attend and a fraction of that actually attended, which I found interesting given the topic.

The attendees and I mused that it may be fear of missing out on something better or because it was free of charge to them and they didn’t value what the presentation might give them. (I got paid to present regardless of how many turned up) Those who did turn up were volunteers and prospective volunteers and from all walks of life. As someone who volunteers on a regular basis, I feel it is important to recognize and set boundaries, as volunteer “burnout” is all too common.

I’m not going to bore you with the actual presentation that I prepared, but one thing that I felt was an important message to get across, was to recognize WHY one becomes a volunteer and WHO is benefiting from the volunteering.

Is it therapeutic to the volunteer or the client?

By asking these questions of yourself,  you can then start to identify where your boundaries start.

I’m a visual learner so I created a graphic to help me to look at the different elements to consider. Discussion led on to Cultural boundaries and making sure we learn about cultures we work with so as to be respectful in our interaction and how boundaries can become blurred. Too often we read in the newspaper about a therapist or carer who has crossed the professional boundaries with a client.

As a volunteer you can be friendly with a client, but establishing a friendship is quite a different thing and may well cross professional boundaries that should be in place. This not only applies to the volunteer/client relationship but should be considered in peer to peer relationships in any workplace.

There is often over disclosure of personal information within the workplace.

It is far better to find a trusted person, usually a counselor to disclose to if there is a problem.

The organization should have systems and protocols in place that educate employees and volunteers about personal, cultural and social expectations and boundaries. Ideally there should be a structure in place for the volunteers to “download” or supervision process, so that they don’t burn out emotionally.

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Looking back

My very first labyrinth was a temporary chalk labyrinth drawn in the chakra colours some 18 years ago, on the driveway of my city home. This is the fourth permanent labyrinth that I have built…… with another on the drawing board….The current labyrinth was constructed over the Easter weekend in April 2014 on my 16 hectare property not far from Rushworth.

The previous three labyrinths were constructed on a friend’s property down the road, nearer to Heathcote. These were also built over Easter weekends, but have now been “de-commissioned” and two have been totally dismantled and the last one has been totally overgrown with trees.

The first one was made of wood and branches collected from the property and laid out on a disused ant’s nest. Curiously, the kangaroos and wildlife left it alone and it stayed relatively intact for some 15 years.The next labyrinth was a little more ambitious and work began on it in 2006. Blistered hands and aching muscles were forgotten when I made the first walk! Visits over the years entailed tidying up the path until one year that became impossible.

In 2011 there had been heavy rains in Central Victoria, with many areas flooding and the dry, dormant land sprang back to life. The pathway of the labyrinth became a forest of young gum saplings! I did clear some and hoped to weave the rest into a fence but it became too difficult to manage and the purchase of my own property gave me license to be creative!

In the meantime, the current, larger,  Labyrinth is a Classic 7 ring Cretan style that grew, once I realized that it wasn’t constrained by space. The small structure in the centre has a shallow bowl that I fill for the blue wrens and wagtails that live in the nearby bushes. To follow the construction follow THIS LINK or look through the blog archives from 2012 onwards.

A smaller labyrinth has also been constructed… initially intended to be temporary, it has remained in situ for about 18 months and needs very little maintenance.

On “the bucket list” is the construction of a large Chartres style labyrinth similar to the one in Sydney’s Centennial Park and have it open for public walking. I’ll keep you posted…..

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Adding an Olive Grove

olive-grove-6A milestone birthday saw the gift of 6 olive trees to be planted at the retreat. Two of one variety and four of another. In my enthusiasm, I have left the labels in the shed, so am not sure about the actual variety.  I have been assured that there is a difference between table olives and oil olives. Either way, I’m sure I’m going to learn how to work with the crop. (Update:  they are Kalamata and Lecchino)

Presently there are plenty of flower buds on 3 of the trees.  Apparently the olives are too bitter for birds to be attracted to them, but I have observed a olive-grove-5large flock of cockatoos in the olive plantation down the road, so if I’m serious about getting a crop, I’m going to have to net them.

With the heavy clay soil waterlogged at times, I decided to work on the soil and wait for better weather before planting them out.  After the holes were dug, a liberal application of gypsum was applied and dug into the clay. Previous applications have worked well in conditioning the soil along the lines that mark the labyrinth.

Each visit since June, the soil has been turned over and the holes re-dug, partly to aerate them and partly to allow the winter rains to reach deeper into the soil and to get the gypsum to mix in with the clay.   With a revitalized Oak tree at the entrance to the labyrinth & possibly another acorn germinating at the northern edge, I decided to put the olive trees about olive-grove-7a metre out from the labyrinth, spacing them out…3 on each side, resulting in approximately 5 metres between each tree. That should give them adequate space to thrive.  The soil on the Eastern side is quite poor and very hard to dig as it is heading toward a section of the hill that has quite a bit of scoria, and I’m hoping that the addition of the gypsum and compost will be adequate.

The composting process has been improved and composted buckets have been transferred to a large compost bin and topped up with extra sawdust. Some early warm spring days have resulted in some good quality soil. This was well mixed into the previously dug holes and the trees planted. olive-grove-4

John, our friendly neighbour, advised that wallabies are partial to olives, so some sturdy wire was purchased and the trees surrounded by this. Also taller stakes were used as I have observed the kangaroos using the stakes around the oak trees as chin scratching poles!

Planting done…..an appropriate addition to the 7 ring Cretan labyrinth and I’m hoping that the energy of the labyrinth will help to nurture these Olive trees.….

One day, far into the future, long after the labyrinth path has subsided back into the paddock there will  be a small olive grove…..

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New Acquisitions

WattleI love the way the wattle just seems to explode with exuberance from the tight buds into fluffy, exquisitely scented pom poms after a drab and chilly winter.

The yellow stands out against the green paddocks which also yield a secret not seen before…..a combination, I have concluded, that is a mixture of more than adequate rains and the paddocks lying fallow for the past two and a half years. natural insect control

From a distance it looks as if the grass in places is starting to yellow, but on closer inspection the grass is found to be swathes of sundews – a carnivorous plant! Starting off as tiny, delicate roundels, the plant matures and has a small almost insignificant flower that tops it. They are growing in and around the large labyrinth – so it may be that the rings of the labyrinth are acting as swales to hold the New but old.... seating in the labyrinthmoisture in the soil.

A perfect place to observe these plants is from the first of the new additions to the retreat.

Spring not only brings the wildflower season, but a hard rubbish collection in the city.  So the first of the new acquisitions was a swing chair found in a pile for kerbside collection. Permission was sought from the owner and it was dismantled and re- assembled to be a labyrinth viewing and meditation seat. Newer cushions were discovered on a different pile and replaced!

green hood orchidsI was excited to discover a single green hood orchid on my walk down to the lower dam a few weeks back and even more so to green hood orchidsfind them growing in abundance in the back paddock. I had to chuckle at the growing notes on several sites… not grown in soil, water and fertilize frequently – these are in heavy clay and exist on whatever rainfall has come this way and are fertilized by kangaroos and hares (which have left them alone).

new chairsThe newest acquisition came about from a conversation about the first. A colleague’s neighbour was downsizing and had just put out a set of 4 garden chairs for her hard rubbish collection. I followed my colleague home and stacked them in the back of the 4WD and here they are! Perfect for sitting around the fire pit and much more civilized than camping chairs!

 

 

 

 

 

Labyrinth constructions

Facebook kindly reminded me this morning that it has been 2 years since I constructed the 7 ring Cretan Labyrinth at the retrLabyrintheat.

I haven’t spent much time in it lately due to a couple of falls that left me sore and sorry for myself, but over the last couple of visits I got the shovel out to refurbish it.  Not being mathematically minded, I wasn’t  even going to start calculating how many shovel widths the outer ring is and the energy used to move that amount of dirt…. however curiosity got the better of me and I used a circumference calculator to work out that the circumference of the outer ring is a little over 47.1 metres as the diameter at its widest part is some 15metres.  The gypsum applied a while back has definitely improved the soil quality, especially from the digging point of view! Some still remains in the central cross and that got turned over last weekend.

Sage ready to plantThe wildlife likes to play in it, so to keep the definition, rocks from the paddock are gradually being put in the channels created by the digging, which also means less rocks out in the paddock for the mower to run over. Hopefully the rocks will also provide some initial protection for future plantings. The sage program was ambitious and contrary to gardening advice sites that suggest that it is unpalatable to rabbits or hares, the amount of droppings left next to the munched and dug up plants suggest otherwise. It appears that kangaroos enjoy sage as well as garlic.

Solstice morningThe next project is to find a plant that will tolerate drought and extremes of temperatures. Winter mornings can be a little crispy underfoot and a recent week of summer temperatures of over 38C saw even the succulent plant known as pigface, burnt to a crisp. I’m wondering if Rosemary is suitable and will strike a few cuttings to plant before undertaking a big project again.

At the centre is a small rose bush, which is getting drip fed water from the damaged water tank that used to be on the fire trailer.  That was put in  some months back and is only just surviving. The wildlife had dug up the oak tree in the centre, grown from a Rushworth acorn and I was about to discard it, but at the last minute planted it at the entrance. I was delighted to discover it had resprouted and it now has a sturdy tree guard around it.  Last weekend I picked up some acorns in Heathcote and planted one in the outer ring at the northern most point. It will be lovely to see if it sprouts and if so will have a tree guard put up next visit. Apparently Oak trees are a little fussy about having their roots disturbed by repotting.

Shepherd's CrookIn the meantime, I realised that one of the areas near the firepit might be suitable for a small labyrinth and marked out an area with a tomato stake – raking the leaves to make a path once it was clear that it would fit. This has been a handy little labyrinth to walk… the design is called the Shepherd’s Crook and it provides a choice of directions to get the centre once you have entered the first two rings. This is ideal if you choose right or left to be a yes or no answer to a question that you take with you to the centre. I had to detour slightly on one path as I wanted to keep the pigface in that area and there a couple of bull mallee trees to squeeze past on the outer ring.

Pop up labyrinthThe next labyrinth project was a “Pop Up” labyrinth that I drew freehand and in chalk for the City of Monash in Hamilton Walk during the last school holidays. A simple left handed, 3 ring Cretan labyrinth.  My acupuncturist and myotherapist were delighted with my activities and I shall remember to do some proper stretching exercises before I attempt another one of these! It was a beautiful autumn morning and from all accounts there were many children walking it later in the day.  It was completely washed away by a thunderstorm the following day having served its purpose. If asked to do another, I would orientate it a little differently as I wasn’t familiar with the foot traffic in the area.

light in the labyrinthAnd so we return to the 7 ring labyrinth. Slow and steady, plenty of water and several hours later, the outline was redefined.  A mixture of rocks and earth, a rose at the centre – with some jonquil bulbs that are already poking their green leaves above the ground. I’m just hoping that they won’t make the wildlife ill – as I believe they are toxic to cats, dogs and horses.  Another couple of days are needed to add more rocks for more definition.

 

Communication

Every so often you get to have an unforgettable experience.  Just about every visit to the retreat provides a different kind of experience and there is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each of them.

With the warmer weather, one keeps an eye out for reptiles but I haven’t seen any for some time. Over the nearly two years, I have seen just two, a black snake and a brown snake – neither close to the cottage.  With that in mind, I was sitting near the fire pit reading and enjoying the spring sunshine  when a movement caught my eye.

Immediately, the primal instincts kicked in and yes, I froze.  Having had a meter long snake slither under my chair at Mataranka, I was hoping that this was not going to be a replay.

I looked up. Two beady eyes were fixed on me. A long forked tongue darted in angoanna snipd out of the mouth and then I noticed it had legs…… a Goanna!

A mental sigh of relief and keeping as still as possible, I reached for the camera in the chair pocket. It turned its head to look at me and we sat and stared at each other for what seemed to be an age. Keeping in mind that goannas have been known to think humans are trees and climb them, I decided to remain still and wondered how long we would stare at each other…

Breathe…… that’s what I tell clients to do all the time! Then curiosity got the better of me, I started to wonder about the metaphysical message of Goanna, knowing that I would have goannato wait until I returned to the city for reliable internet access. We continued to stare at each other for a little longer and I thanked it for coming to visit, whereupon it got up and ambled off, looking very much like a small crocodile, and disappeared under the fence into the bush property behind the retreat.

The message I took from that encounter, before I looked up the symbolism, was the need for stillness.  Having spent the previous 6 weeks or more with pneumonia, I had been in an altered state of consciousness for some time. Priorities have changed and I am again drawn back to the metaphysical and energy healing that has been a part of my journey this far.

It was to be a couple of weeks before I could return and with high temperatures forecast for the next week or so, it was important to help the oak tree seedlings with their survival. Deep, slow watering every couple of weeks will help to encourage them to do their best.  Each tree is planted in well aged compost from the toilet and the sawdust will help to break down the heavy clay as well retain some moisture around the roots.

Shepherd Crook labyrinthWith energy levels a little higher on this visit, having had some acupuncture and homeopathic treatment, I managed to tidy up the little labyrinth in no time at all.

This is a “Shepherd’s Crook” labyrinth and what I love about it, is that there is a choice of how to get to the centre. This allows time to ask a question and instinctively take the right or left path. I didn’t have the heart to remove the pigface or trees and one has to maneuver around them.

Later that afternoon, I took my book to the fireplace and settled down to catch up on some esoteric reading, when I heard a whoosh and looked up to see a wedgetail eagle swooping into the tree above me. The feathers on its belly and the detail on the wings were clear as it flew out of the sunlight….. Eagle flying in from the sunthen there was a little thud as it seemed to crash into the canopy above and then it was gone, but continued to circle.

I quickly got my phone out and pressed video…… trying to capture the moment but unable to track it properly because of the position of the sun. It made several circles and it was then that I realized that it was looking for the bird that had fallen but would not land because humans were there.  A sudden movement caught my eye and I found a tiny pardelote fledgling in the leaf litter with the bull ants already sensing this was their next meal. IMG_3629

I caught it and pulled the ants off, but there was no hope of getting high enough to put it back into the nest. It hopped around for some time and I did put it into a tree, but it soon fluttered back down to the ground. All I could do was to leave it and hope that it developed enough strength in its tiny wings to get back to the nest.

Whilst all this was going on, various small birds gathered, including this robin who perched about a metre away and kindly stayed still long enough for a photo to be taken!

There is a great sense of wonderment with the metaphysical meanings of the various creatures that appear at the retreat and combined with the strange and often historical nature of the dreams that occur whilst there, I am curious to find out more about the history of the area. Watching the seasonal changes is a great lesson in awareness and whilst it would be easier to use chemicals to control some of the weeds and artificial fertilizers to enhance the soil, I remain committed to organic  or permaculture practices.