art : nature : words
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
In the month of January, the lure of the glowing hearth can be more attractive than the challenges (and rewards) of being outdoors. However, Winter days are often the best time to explore the wilder parts of our countryside. The elements can feel more present, tugging at our clothing and nipping our skin - reminding us that we are still very much alive. Even in London it is possible to be touched by wilder places. Venture to the outskirts of the metropolis to places like the Crayford Marshes(1) - a reeded pocket of wilderness. Cormorants, and kestrels a breath away from recycling plants, in the distance the gravity-defying Dartford Bridge. But one still feels the wildness: the cries of estuarine birds as they cut low over the water; wind rattling the reeds; the mud flats gleaming in the low Winter sun - light coating the undulating soft tidal muds, ripples of light.
And of course, you have the anticipation of the blissful return indoors, the glow around our noses and ears as we step over the threshold and the giddy promise of the warming hearth. Toes tingle and curl as we remove muddy boots, slipping off our feet with a satisfying sigh.
This year we have been blessed with brilliant blue skies and golden shafts of light that do not allow the morning mists to linger. However, these crystalline days have been interspersed with heavy grey skies, a flat-screen on which to project our gloomiest feelings; the foggy days seem to be reflected in our stodgy minds, grasping at thoughts in the gloom. Despite this, Winter is the perfect time for reflection rather than action. But in our 24/7 world finding time for contemplation may seem a bit of a challenge. It can take practice to sit with just ourselves, all the media devices turned off, to overcome the uncomfortable mental fidgets and adjustments.
Come January, the festivities are over and the only thing to look forward to is sobriety and the distant promise of Spring. Traditionally in January we make our New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us quickly find that by the end of January our good intentions - without the seasonal energy to carry them through - have withered away like seeds caste on frozen ground. However, huddled in our caves, wrapped up in our woolly armour, we can discover what our true quest is for the year. In order for our changes to be resilient, we cannot rely on will power alone. Instead, taking time to create an inspiring vision of what we’d like to achieve may produce the longevity we seek. This is the time to discover our truths, what we really want. If our desires survive the long wait of winter, like the buds already on the trees – then these are the ones to really act upon come the energizing gifts of Spring.
January Art Making: The Candle in the Cave
We find that it is often helpful to engage with an art making ritual to crystallize our intentions. With this in mind we invite you to find a cave large enough to house a candle. Your cavern could be a hollow in the ground or in a tree.
If you have some clay to hand, you could fashion your own. Once you have securely placed your candle, light it.
As you gaze upon the flame, contemplate that which you would wish to change, to ignite in your life. We would suggest that your vision is inspiring but also realistic. Remember, it is so much easier to think and engage with what we want rather than what we don’t want. Write down your plans and keep them safe: at this point in the year, take time to sit with what it is that you wish to be different in your life. As the year progresses you will find that the energy to act upon your thoughts will grow within you as you draw your power from Nature. We suggest re-lighting the candle once a week to remind yourself of your golden vision.
Simon Wodward, Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist